A uniform pilot that was set in motion during the 2017-2018 school year, has come to a close due to lack of interest. The pilot was launched at Callahan and Aborn Elementary Schools in the fall of 2017, to gauge the interest from both students and parents. Consisting of a uniform t-shirt, the pilot was initially met with some energy and enthusiasm, that later expired at both schools.
School Superintendent Tutwiler met with both school principals and confirmed that there was a lack of interest in the school communities. There was also not enough requested orders of shirts and other uniform items to meet the minimum requirement to place an order last year as well as this fall. It was determined that there were a few factors leading to the waning interest, including the lack of flexibility in ordering options, as there were only certain points in the year when students could opt to order additional shirts. The fact that wearing the uniform T-shirts is an option made it less of a priority for families, and legally, uniforms cannot be mandated, as there is always an opt-out preference.
“At this point, I’d recommend ending the pilot, although it has ended on its own,” said Tutwiler. “Personally I do not have a problem with uniforms in schools if it’s that school community’s wish. If we do rethink this and pursue it in the future, I’d advise to gauge interest and commitment beforehand.”
Tutwiler shared that the broad survey that was sent out to Callahan Elementary School, only captured half of the families of the 430 students, and not all who responded were in favor. When reviewing the data to see if any notable changes took place with those who opted for the uniforms, there was no difference in attendance and while there was a slight difference in discipline, it did not reflect a trend. The principals also reported that the cost of the uniform shirts did not seem to be an issue with parents, as there was no feedback alluding to this.
“I want to thank the principals who implemented the pilot, the PTO members, and parents who were a huge help running surveys and getting the pilot off the ground,” said School Committee Member, Jared Nicholson. “When we have a district of this size, it gives us a great opportunity to try new ideas and do a pilot like this. When you do a pilot, you are testing to see if something works or doesn’t work, and that is data and feedback that we have now. When I started working on this it was driven by parent interest and if the interest is no longer there, there goes the program. The other things are all things we can address and are fixable, but if we don’t have the original parent interest, I can’t imagine it would be successful.”