ROWLAND — When Southside-Ashpole Elementary’s students return for the 2018-19 school year they will be in a new school district, have a new principal and be wearing new uniforms.
“I am an ardent proponent of school uniforms. Not only are they essential to establishing a positive school culture, but also fosters an environment of teamwork and collaboration,” said Bruce Major, the school’s new principal.
Southside-Ashpole is the only school in the state-created Innovative School District and will be managed by Achievement for All Children. The school will be part of the ISD for the next five years, and the goal is to turn the low-performing school into an academically successful school.
The uniform will consist of a blue polo top with the Southside-Ashpole logo on the left chest and khaki bottoms. Each student will receive three sets of uniforms at no personal cost.
Achievement for All Children is seeking support from various companies to cover the cost of the uniforms. However, if no partner is found, Achievement for All Children will pay for the beginning three sets for each child.
Each piece of the uniform costs about $12, for a total cost per uniform of $24. After the initial three sets, families will have to purchase all additional and future uniforms.
Fittings for the uniforms have been scheduled for Friday and Aug. 2 from noon to 6 p.m. each day at Southside-Ashpole. Families will be able to order the uniforms and have them delivered to their homes at no charge.
The school is expecting 242 students in the 2018-19 academic year.
The U.S. Department of Education says wearing uniforms can decrease the risk of violence and theft, instill discipline, and help school officials recognize intruders.
“In addition to fostering a sense of community and school spirit, student uniforms will help make mornings easier for families by eliminating discussions about what to wear from morning routines, relieve school staff from administering school dress codes, reduce the potential for teasing with regards to a students’ attire, and they’re economical,” said Eric Hall, ISD superintendent.
A study by the Journal of School Violence released in 2013 shows that students who wear uniforms are better behaved, especially those at middle school ages.
“School uniforms help to create a positive learning climate, contribute to safe schools, encourage higher standards of excellence in conduct and achievement as well as level the playing field for all,” said Tony Helton, CEO of Achievement for All Children.
Their main argument against school uniforms is that they strip students of their ability to express themselves.
“Albeit a valid argument, the strong academic and cultural programs we have planned will provide ample opportunities for individual student expressions of their personality, likes and dislike,” Major said.
During a meeting last month that Hall and Helton had with community members, the possibility of uniforms was roundly applauded by those in attendance.