Six Salt Lake schools with voluntary school uniform policies could have dozens of more participants, but only with help from the community.
Superintendent Darline Robles and Mayor Deedee Corradini Tuesday asked residents, organizations and businesses to donate money or suitable clothing to help dress needy students in uniforms.Corradini kicked off the campaign with a $1,000 donation from the Salt Lake City Civic Opportunities Fund, set aside for small donations to nonprofit community groups. Robles also has sponsored a family in need.
"Students of all economic levels are in our schools, and we need help," Corradini said. "Help us get all our kids in uniforms so all the kids feel they belong."
Glendale Middle School, Bryant Intermediate School and Jackson, Franklin, Mountain View and Nibley Park elementary schools have adopted school uniform policies. Parents may apply for opt-outs, and 20 to 50 children at each school have had to do so because of financial constraints. Two uniforms cost about $50.
In the past, individual schools have set up business partnerships to help offset costs for those in need, but the need has surpassed the means.
Uniform policies are cropping up across the nation. The National Conference of Mayors, which met in Salt Lake City last week, agrees that school uniforms increase time on task and stem school violence, Corradini said.
Students and principals can attest to that fact.
"We're back to the business of educating our students," said Larry Peterson, principal of Glendale Middle School, where Corradini and Robles launched the uniform drive. The school is ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, but uniforms unify the student body.
Jackson Elementary School principal Marilyn Phillips has noticed students are calmer in uniforms. Ninety percent of students there wear uniforms.
"There doesn't seem to be so much stress," she said. But in her highly mobile student population, new students arrive and exit almost daily, and some families cannot afford the uniforms for their new school.
And, as sixth-grader Daniel Ramos puts it, uniforms help kids fit in and "not get picked on."
Maria Langi, a Glendale eighth-grader, likes the more comfortable school environment where everyone dresses the same.
"I'm proud Glendale is a pioneer in the idea of wearing uniforms," she said.
How to pitch in:
School uniform donations may be designated for a specific school, family or a general fund the district hopes to maintain for years to come.
Contributors are asked to make checks payable to the Salt Lake Education Foundation. Those wishing to donate clothing that meets the uniform code for a school are asked to bring duds that are in good condition to the foundation.
School uniform policies differ, but many include khaki, black or navy pants, shorts and skirts, white collared/ button-down shirts, and collared shirts, sweaters, turtlenecks and vests in navy, red, white, burgandy or black. Some policies do not allow visible clothing logos.
For more information, call Daphne Williams, director of the Salt Lake Education Foundation, at 578-8345. The foundation is located at 440 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111.