Board to consider school uniforms


Superintendent Carol S. Parham will ask the school board tomorrow to approve a controversial pilot program that would allow children at four elementary schools to wear uniforms.

Rose Davis, coordinator of student safety and discipline, will present the board with additional research on the proposal at the meeting.

"If there's something that will help young people improve the way they get along with others, the way they perceive themselves, and motivate them academically, why not try it?" she said.

Last month, the Countywide Citizens Advisory Council, a parent group that advises the board on school issues, proposed the idea of having students wear uniforms.

"The dress code just seems to be out of control," said Nancy W. Almgren, vice chairwoman of the council.

But some board members have criticized the proposal, citing students' rights to freedom of speech and expression.

Linthicum, Park, Quarterfield and Windsor Farm elementaries, where parents seem enthusiastic about the idea, are scheduled to participate in the program. Administrators at Magothy River Middle School have said they will discuss the possibility with parents.

Another program, known as French immersion, also will be on the agenda and is expected to generate spirited debate.

In the program, 30 kindergarten students at Crofton Woods Elementary School could learn to read, write and speak French before they learn the same English skills. If approved, the pilot program would begin in September.

Some parents have questioned the $60,000 expense, saying a school system that is unable to afford computers and other supplies should not consider such a program.

"Why are we considering implementing a program that will benefit so few students when money is so tight?" said Richard S. Zipper, a Crofton parent who gathered 125 signatures protesting the program. "We have many more needs that need to be filled."

The money would pay for a bilingual teacher and a teaching aide for the class, school officials said. French textbooks would be paid for through an allowance teachers are given for instructional materials.

Though the program would be a first for Anne Arundel, schools in Montgomery and Prince George's counties have been offering it for nearly 20 years.

In other action, the school board is scheduled to elect new officers, approve a new contract for a lawyer to represent the board in legal matters, and ratify a contract with the union that represents principals and school administrators.

The school board meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. at the school system's headquarters on Riva Road in Annapolis.

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