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School uniform issue still undecided

By Staff
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Red knit shirts and khaki pants may still be in the future for students in the Hartselle school system.
Board members Ronnie Abercrombie and Jeff Gray were unsuccessful in obtaining a board majority agreement at a Monday night Hartselle City Schools Board of Education work session as to whether students will be required to wear uniforms for the 2003-2004 school year.
However, Superintendent Dr. Lee Hartsell said a committee will be appointed at a Monday night meeting to determine the cost and style of uniforms before the issue is voted on by the board.
Although one teacher, two students, and one parent attended the work session to speak against the possibility of uniforms, Abercrombie said he believes the majority of citizens are in favor of the idea.
"Personally, I have received probably 200 or more positive comments about the uniforms and one negative," Abercrombie said. "So much time is wasted on dress code violations that it cheats students out of valuable class time. Uniforms would eliminate much of that problem."
Opponents at the meeting were concerned about the added expense of uniforms and the inability to express themselves through personal clothing choices.
Before the work session, Abercrombie purchased an example of the proposed uniform, pair of khaki pants and a red knit shirt, at a local Wal-Mart for $20.32.
"The entire uniform costs less than a pair of jeans," Abercrombie said.
As for students expressing themselves through clothing, Abercrombie said national events, like 9/11 and Columbine, have forced many people to give up certain personal freedoms for the sake of safety.
"During this week's school shooting in Louisiana, 200 kids rushed frantically through the hallways. Think how much easier it would have been to identify those who didn't belong at that school if the students were in uniforms," Abercrombie said.
If a uniform policy is approved, Abercrombie believes students will still be able to express themselves and distinguish their individuality through good grades and school participation.
Hartsell said the uniform issue was met with unfavorable public response when it was presented six years ago. Recently, he said the board has received an even mix of negative and positive response.