NCCS approves new dress code

A new dress code will force many elementary school students to wear uniforms next year.

The Newton-Conover City Schools Board of Education unanimously approved standard code of dress policy Monday for elementary school students to go into effect next school year. The board did not vote on a particular uniform, but rather approved an action that will force each elementary school’s staff to construct a dress code with input from parents.

The school staff and parents must present the new dress code to the board by Aug. 8.

Despite approving the dress code for next year, board members made it clear that nothing will be enforced until January, at the earliest.

The board’s reasons for implementing a dress code varied, but revolved around one key theme — create a less hostile school environment while establishing an “equal” playing field.

“I think we forget how quickly children figure out, ‘He’s a have-not,’” said NCCS Superintendent Barry Redmond.

After briefly discussing personnel cuts and end-of-grade test scores, board members debated the dress code policy for nearly an hour Monday.

When NCCS Board Vice Chairwoman Betty Coulter questioned the economic timing of the dress code, NCCS board member Jim Stockner spoke up.

“There’s probably no better time than now to do this,” Stockner said, adding that it is such a small crowd that does not want the uniforms.

“It’s cheaper for parents to do this than to go buy all the designer clothes kids want.”

The “small crowd” that Stockner refers to voiced their disapproval of the dress code at several public forums held the weeks leading up to the board’s vote. Coulter reiterated those concerns to the board Monday, telling them that some parents said they would not be able to afford a second or third outfit specifically for school.

“I can see where it looks good, but I am concerned at a time when the economy is as such,” Coulter said.

NCCS board member Kyle Drum is one of the main proponents of the dress code policy and cited the success of a lot of other school district — national and local — that benefited from a standard code of dress.

When NCCS Board Chairman Scott Loudermelt said he has not seen a great need for a dress code in the elementary schools, Drum took a stand.

“This was not about waiting for a problem to happen,” Drum said. “We are trying to be proactive before problems happen.”

The board discussed how there was a great need for a dress code when the middle school’s code of dress was established. They agreed that there has been a clear difference in the atmosphere at the middle schools since the implementation.

“In middle schools, once we went to the dress code, the teachers were back in charge,” Redmond said.

The new dress code policy will effect six grades at South Newton, Shuford and Thornton elementary schools.

Loudermelt said it is only fair that each school’s staff and parents be involved in the process, seeing that they are going to be the ones most effected by the policy.