Back to school shopping just got a whole lot easier. The Westbury School District has decided to implement school uniforms for students in kindergarten through ninth-grade, a move Superintendent Eudes Budhai says is intended to help students focus on academics.
“We want our students focused on their academics, rather than other things that may interfere,” said Budhai. “It’s about having students take pride in who they are.”
The move puts Westbury in the small group of Long Island districts that require a dress code; others include Roosevelt and Wyandanch, which have been pleased with the results. Nationally, 20 percent of public schools required students to wear uniforms as of the 2013-14 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Budhai says the uniform decision was “a longtime in the making.” It was made final after a family engagement advisory council meeting and surveys were sent out to the community, where about 90 percent of the 900 responding parents voiced their approval for a uniform policy.
Parent Brenda Odom said she thought the change was a wonderful idea.
“I think it’s going to help with all the different families we have in Westbury. It’ll be more cost-effective throughout the year,” said Odom, who is the secretary of the PTA Council and has a child going into fourth grade. “It’ll help within the student population, as far as them not treating each other as if ‘I’m well-off and you’re not.’ I think it’s a wonderful thing that will help families in need.”
Isabella Hamilton-Lomax, president of the Dryden Street PTA, said she thought the change was a generally good one, but had concerns about making sure it was affordable for all parents.
“I’m okay with it, my concerns would just be making sure parents can afford it,” said Hamilton-Lomax. “It looks like the prices are relatively inexpensive, but…for parents who used to pass clothes down from one child to another, if they have multiple children in each school they’ll have to purchase uniforms [for each child].”
Budhai said affordability was one of the main factors they looked into when picking their vendor, All American Workwear. The pre-sale prices are $10 for a short-sleeved polo, $12 for a long-sleeved polo, $10 for shorts and $12 for pants.
Quality and ease of ordering and returns was also considered when picking All American Workwear as the vendor. Resident Gloria Rosenau said when the items were shown at a recent meeting, the quality of the clothing stood out.
“I personally think that uniforms are a practical and economical idea,” said Rosenau. “Considering the price of the items, I think it will save parents money. I feel that uniforms remove competition for named, expensive clothing that is unnecessary, especially in lower grades.”
Elementary school students will wear a gold polo adorned with a green emblem and black pants while middle school students will have a green polo with yellow emblem and black pants. Ninth-grade students will have a green polo with khaki pants or shorts. Budhai said as the incoming ninth-graders moves up to tenth grade, they will wear uniforms as well, continuing all the way to 12th grade.
Budhai said they are looking into making Friday a “day of expression,” where students can wear their own clothing.
The vendor held a pre-sale event at Park Avenue on July 25, and will be holding another one on Aug. 16 at Park Avenue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., where parents will be able to try clothing on and have it delivered or take it home.
As for students who don’t wear the uniform, Budhai said there will be no negative consequence.
“We would love for our students to wear the uniform, but if a parent or child decides they don’t want to participate, they have that option,” said Budhai. “We don’t want to put negative consequences on a student that doesn’t want to. We’re trying to show them what positive outcomes could come out of this so they could focus and be proud of who they are at Westbury.”