Goshen school considers strict dress code policy

Students at West Goshen Elementary School may be scrapping their casual duds for a more formal dress code.

Monday night, parents and school officials met at West Goshen for a committee meeting on the dress code. The idea came about a few years ago, when Principal Alan Metcalfe realized that when students were given the same “spirit wear” t-shirts there was a heightened sense of community.

In spring 2013, the roughly 250 families at West Goshen were given a seven question survey to see how parents reacted to the idea of uniforms. At the time, officials were looking at strict uniforms instead of a standardized dress code.

1. Do you think wearing school uniforms will help stop students from teasing each other about clothes?

  • Yes: 123

  • No: 24

  • Probably: 45

2. Do you think a school uniform would develop a sense of student community and belonging within the school setting?

  • Yes: 101

  • No: 32

  • Probably: 6

3. Do you think that how a student dresses affects how they behave?

  • Yes: 74

  • No: 71

  • Probably: 46

4. Do you think a school uniform would enhance security by easily identifying staff and students?

  • Yes: 129

  • No: 28

  • Probably: 35

5. Would you be interested in having uniforms if there were “Free Fridays” when students could wear their own clothes?

  • Yes: 144

  • No: 27

  • Probably: 20

6. Do you think West Goshen Elementary should consider school uniforms for the 2014-2015 school year?

  • Yes: 128

  • No: 33

  • Probably: 31

7. Would you be interested in attending meetings to discuss this issue?

  • Yes: 73

  • No: 64

  • Probably: 44

Parents were also invited to comment beyond the survey questions. According to Metcalfe, comments were split between positive and concerns about affordability. Responses ranged from “kids should be able to dress however they want as long as it is appropriate,” to, “perfect because that would help with expenses, teasing in regards to what they wear. I hope this happens.”

West Goshen plans on adopting a standardized dress code where students would have to wear a collared shirt with sleeves and some type of slacks.

Officials said very few dress code violations occur, so why adopt a uniform-like policy?

The principal and vice principal said establishing a tighter knit school community, eliminating opportunities for bullying and instilling a sense of professionalism are high on the list of motivating factors.

Vice Principal Marvin Lane has been in charge of the committee on dress code. He said the parents that weren’t ready to buy into the idea of uniforms were concerned their children would lose individuality. By allowing students to pick different colors and patterns, Lane said students may maintain some sense of identity within a stricter scope of attire.

Another major concern for some parents is the cost and availability of dress code-friendly clothing. Lane has been talking with local retailers to see prices for polo shirts for both boys and girls and said he believes parents could end up saving money.

The school’s goal is to eventually set up a store where former parents may donate gently used shirts and pants for current students to purchase at a discount. However, the details have not yet been hammered out.

West Goshen Elementary School is currently the only school in the district considering uniforms and a stricter dress code.

There will be two more meetings before the dress code plan goes before the school board on March 24. Metcalfe said the board has been very receptive to the idea and he is confident it will be adopted for the 2014-2015 school year.

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