MILFORD – The Caroline County School Board will explore the possibility of requiring uniforms for all public school students.
Bowling Green Mayor David Storke and a group of local business owners asked the School Board at its regular meeting on Monday night of this week to consider requiring uniforms for all students to improve the image of Caroline schools.
“I think it has a lot of potential if this could be done right,” Superintendent Greg Killough said Tuesday. “School board members are interested in finding out more detail. Uniforms create camaraderie. Students behave better and are more focused when they’re dressed in a more formal way.”
Storke, who owns Storke Funeral Home in Bowling Green, was joined at the School Board meeting by: Gary Watts of GH Watts Construction, Evan Stout of Evans Heating and Air, Mike Manns of Pitts and Manns Realty, Will Gravatt of G&G Ace Hardware, Allen Brown of Caroline Cleaners, and Jared Beasley of Beasley Harvesting.
“Our group doesn’t have a name,” Storke said. “This bunch of businessmen sprang up after a recent meeting of the new Business Link group where a discussion quickly turned to the school system.”
(Caroline Business Link is a group of business leaders, government officials, and civic–minded citizens who are interested in acting as ambassadors of Caroline County.)
Public schools “define a community,” said Storke, who has four sons, one in kindergarten and one in the first grade. “Schools affect our businesses and their growth.”
The local business group did a study and determined that residents of other counties make unjustified negative remarks about Caroline schools, he said.
Commanders at Fort A.P. Hill and others taking jobs in Caroline have been told by real estate agents that if they have children, they should live in Spotsylvania County because of Caroline’s schools, Storke told the board.
The U.S. Department of Education conducted a study and determined that uniforms reduce gang activity because gangs can’t wear their gang colors, the mayor told the board. Less violence occurs in such schools and students are better focused on their studies. Uniforms also give students a “sense of pride and a sense of discipline,” the mayor said.
Some students are embarrassed because they don’t have “cool pants and cool shoes,” Storke said. Less bullying occurs in schools with uniforms “because there is no intimidation factor because of clothes.”
The uniforms could be as simple as kahki pants or skirt and a shirt or blouse of a certain color, he suggested. “For parents, this would be less money.”
The business group and the Caroline Chamber of Commerce examined test scores and school violence in Caroline and surrounding county school divisions. Caroline’s test scores “were not at the bottom of the list, and our school violence was no worse than surrounding counties.” The school division has good teachers and administrators, too, noted Storke.
“But because we are so small — one high school — anything that happens in our school system, whether it’s discipline problems or arrests, it makes the news. We do have a high teen pregnancy rate and a high obesity rate for a county our size,” Storke told the board.
Caroline students attend three governor’s schools, he pointed out.
Before Storke spoke, the School Board honored dozens of Caroline High School students who had been accepted at colleges, including an Ivy League institution, Columbia University. Real estate agents seldom share college acceptance news with home buyers, said Storke.
“Our businesses will never grow unless more people come to Caroline County,” the mayor told the board. “The number one thing that families look at in coming here is our school system. We have to do something and we have to do something fast.”