Mt. View collars new dress code

BY TOM FONTANA

Correspondent

 

Starting with the 2014-15 school year, it looks like it will be collars and cuffs in the Mountain View School District.

The revised dress code policy the school board approved Monday night, states: “All shirts must have collars,” with no more than two buttons unbuttoned at the neck.  It also bans the wearing of gym shorts, jean shorts, and sweat pants in classrooms, permitting only ‘cargo-style’ shorts of appropriate length.

In addition, the new code also bans the wearing of any t-shirts, sport shorts, and turtleneck sweaters (unless worn under a sweater).

Before the vote was taken, some parents and students spoke out against the changes.

“I’m a single mom of three boys,” one parent stated.  “I have a budget.  I won’t be able to afford new clothes for this school year.  And what about the lower income families who can’t afford clothes at all?”

Another mother asked her daughter, a Mountain View High School student to stand and presented her to the board in apparently what were the clothes she wore to school that day.

“What’s wrong with how she’s dressed?” the mother asked.  “I think this is totally fine for school.  But under the new dress code, it wouldn’t be.”

Jane Mack, a parent who spoke out against the code changs at past board meetings, objected once again.

“I am not for this new dress code,” she pointed out.  “Was the dress code at Lackawanna Trail the only model used for this new dress code?”

Principal Robert Presley said he based the new Mountain View code on Trail’s and those of two other schools.  “Those school codes are the ones the board directed me to look at,” he answered.

Mack’s son, Austin, also spoke to the board.

“A lot of you don’t hear about what goes around at the school about the dress code,” he said.  “Mountain View has always been a country school.  We’ll look like a prep school with this new code.  Maybe that’s what you want.  I wear t-shirts and jeans because that’s the way I express myself.  Being able to express ourselves is important.”

When the motion was made to consider the new code, board member Christine Plonski-Sezer stressed that it would not be initiated until “the first day of school in August 2014.”  The policy was adopted on a vote of 6-2.  Director Roy Twining was absent from the meeting.

In other business, Presley asked the board to review a revised plan for high school graduation projects.

The new plan offers guidelines for planning projects, and requires students to state specific aspects of their project, such as why they chose it, what they expect to learn from it, a timeline for completing the project, and anticipated costs.

Presley offered an analogy of how some student’s projects deteriorated in the past.

“They’d start with saying they’re going to build a log cabin in the woods,” he said.  “Then it would become a storage shed, and finally end up as a bird house. The revised plan intends to keep projects from going so far off track.”

During public comment near the end of the meeting, board director Dava Rinehart-Cowan stepped away from her board seat, and placed herself in the audience, stating she wanted to speak as a parent.

She proceeded to question the decision by the high school administration that her son, a junior, was required to take a remediating Algebra I course after taking it in eighth grade and passing it. She said that Keystone exams were required for the Class of 2017 and beyond, but her son was in the Class of 2015, and furthermore was able to pass honors Algebra II and geometry with no problem and is now in pre-cal.

“Now he’s in Algebra again, and very unhappy about it, and I can’t blame him.  He’s complaining he can’t get all his homework done, and is now hating school.”

Her comments were mostly directed at Presley, who indicated that scores on the December Keystone exams affect the state’s proficiency rating of the school district.

“Right now, Mountain View is in the bottom of proficiency in the state ,” he told the board.  “If you want me to exempt students from remediating Algebra, then don’t blame me when the district comes back with a low proficiency.  I’m just trying to bring the scores up like you expect me to do.”

Director Tom Stoddard asked Presley to determine how many students are in the same situation as Rinehart-Cowan’s son, and report back to the board as to what the effect would be if those students were excused from remediating Algebra.

The board also approved benefits and salaries for clerical staff for the 2013-14 school year, as well as administrative salaries, but details were not available at the time of the meeting.