D51 Board Members "Interested" in School Uniforms

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Could District 51 students be required to wear school uniforms in the future? Two school board members say it's a possibility they would like to explore as they look for ways to cut down on bullying and teasing.

The issue was brought up for the second time in as many school board meetings Tuesday night. Although board members have had no formal discussions about a uniform policy, they say the idea "has been put out there" and they're at least interested in seeing what becomes of it.

As bullying and taunting continue to grab national headlines, District 51 board members say they should be doing all they can to put a dent in the problem.

"It would be an equalizer," said Harry Butler, District 51 School Board President. "Kids would be more adapt at learning if they didn't have to worry about what am I going to wear tomorrow, is this going to be sharp, is this going to be better than so and so? So we wouldn't have that problem, I believe."

Butler is one of two school board members to publicly express support for uniforms. He says it's not the silver bullet that will stop all bullying problems, but it's a good place to start.

"Once kids feel that they're on the same level, I think they'll be more at ease,' said Butler.

The staff at Caprock Academy says that's something they've noticed in their classrooms.

"As a whole, we've had a pretty positive experience with uniforms," said Kristin Trezise, Headmaster of Caprock Academy.

The charter school requires all students to wear navy or tan khakis and skirts, and specific colored polo shirts.

"They don't have to worry if they're wearing the right brand of jeans or right brand of t-shirts," said Trezise. "The students can just focus on what they need to do here in school which is learn."

Trezise admits the policy is not always well received by the students.

"If you ask them if they like the uniform, probably the younger kids would say yes and as they get older they get less inclined to like it," said Trezise. "But they understand why we have them."

She says, however, it still works because students are given plenty of avenues to express themselves creatively through their work -- and more importantly, the kids, the parents, and school staff have bought into the philosophy behind the uniforms.

"For a uniform policy to work, everyone has to be on the same page," said Trezise.

But would everyone in District 51 be on the same page?

"I know I had a hard time in school because of the clothes I wore," Ashley Romero-Brown wrote on the KKCO NBC 11 News facebook page. "I think [uniforms] would definitely put more of a focus on academics rather than fashion."

"Since when do we want our children to be clones?," wrote Carla Kodet. "We teach them to be themselves, then ask that they conform. What a conflict!"

Cindy Enos-Martinez -- another school board member who has expressed support for school uniforms -- tells 11 News she would be interested in trying a pilot project at one school before implementing anything district wide.

She also says much like Caprock Academy, potential plans would likely require students to wear certain styles of clothes, but not specific brands -- that way families would have a wide range of options in terms of stores and price points.

"It wouldn't be anything that was unaffordable," said Enos-Martinez.

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