The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, July 28, 1999
Parents debate security issues in school, proposed new dress code

Staff Writer

A Saturday roundtable discussion about the proposed 1 percent special local option sales tax to raise $90 million for new schools veered into smaller but emotional issues — like untucked shirts and baggy pants.

Participants focused on security and the proposed changes in dress code. A brief clip from a training film produced by a state public safety agency showed a teenaged boy dressed in slighty baggy jeans and t-shirt packing 16 weapons on his person, including a shotgun concealed in the leg of his jeans. The latest dress code proposals for all Fayette County students calls for non-baggy pants with shirts tucked into the waist, which will be belted if belt loops are provided.

A three-week grace period will be given when school begins Aug. 16, with the rules to be enforced starting Sept. 7. Book bags and backpacks can be carried to and from school, but must be stored in lockers during class time. While these recommendations have yet to be acted upon by the Board of Education, safety task force coordinator Stuart Bennett, former principal of McIntosh High School and now assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said, “It's where we're headed based on recommendations.”

“Why should a kindergartner tuck his shirt in? We're going to make offenders out of a lot of really good kids,” said Janet Smola of the Joseph Sams School.

The initial security proposal for elementary, middle and high schools totaling $1.7 million has already been revised, after parents voiced their opposition to metal detectors in the elementary schools, and administrators were faced having someone man the detectors. Instead, the 30 proposed VCR cameras have been replaced with 30 high resolution digital cameras, and the metal detectors have given way to 25 walkie-talkies and two hand-held metal detectors for the elementary schools.

The middle school proposal includes 45 digital cameras, 30 walkie-talkies and four hand-held metal detectors and each high school would have 60 digital cameras and 35 walkie-talkies, four hand-held metal detectors and five portable walk-through metal detectors. The total cost remains the same.

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