The vast majority of Toledo Public Schools elementary students arrived in uniform for the first day of classes yesterday.
"It was a really smooth opening, and we had a higher-than-expected compliance with the uniforms. Parents really got the message," Superintendent Eugene Sanders said after last night's Board of Education meeting. "It was about 80 to 85 percent. And the kids really looked great."
Some school administrators predicted that about 50 percent of students would comply with the district's new mandatory uniform policy on the first day of school.
The district adopted the policy as part of its strategy to increase test scores and encourage better behavior.
The district has a grace-period that runs until next month before it takes action against students who disobey the uniform policy.
Mr. Sanders has said there would be progressive disciplinary action, but specific punitive measures, such as demerits or detention, have not yet been drafted.
Mr. Sanders also took the opportunity during last night's board meeting to beat the district's drum and congratulate the staff on being elevated from the state's lowest possible rating of academic emergency, vaulting past academic watch, and landing in the continuous improvement category.
"We have out-distanced and out-preformed all the urban districts in Ohio," he said. "No other urban district in the state has been able to reach that rating."
Toledo Public Schools also met federal standards for showing progress across every student group, including the poor and minorities.
Larry Sykes, vice president of the school board, said the board should continue with the district's current momentum and draft a new set of goals for Mr. Sanders.
"He has met all the goals we set for him when he was hired," Mr. Sykes said.
In other business, the board approved 4-0 altering the first segment of the district's $821 million capital improvements program. Board member Peter Silverman was absent.
The measure postpones construction of a new Scott Middle School, originally scheduled for segment one, until segment five - which is slated for 2007 to 2010.
The board tabled a measure that dramatically would alter the construction schedule of other buildings in the program until public forums can be held later this month.
"I wanted the community to have input before we do that," board President David Welch said.
The public forums, all beginning at 6 p.m., are scheduled for:
●Sept. 20 at the former DeVilbiss High School.
●Sept. 21 at the former Riverside Hospital's Waite-Brand Auditorium.
●Sept. 22 at Byrnedale Junior High School.
●Sept. 23 at McTigue Junior High School.
The district is considering rearranging the construction schedule because of shifting enrollment projections.
Last night, the board rejected bids for a new Robinson Middle School because they were 15 percent above estimates.
"Our team is looking at the project, and we are hoping to go out to bid in two weeks," said Dan Burns, the district's chief business manager.
The school is scheduled to be built during segment one. Mr. Burns said the delay in receiving acceptable bids should not push it off schedule.