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Sunnyside school uniforms decision coming to a head soon

Let's get on with it, already.

That's the overall consensus of the Sunnyside School Board when it comes to making a decision about school uniforms.

But a survey conducted this past school year came back with a woefully low number of participants.

"Something didn't happen," said Superintendent Rick Cole about the survey results, which indicate that a mere 2,721 stakeholders out of 12,711, or 21 percent, participated.

The district's continuous improvement team was tasked with creating the survey, which was then printed and distributed to the schools. It was up to each individual school to determine how to distribute the survey.

At last night's regularly scheduled meeting, Director Stephen Carpenter said, "This issue's been out there long enough and I would like to suggest some kind of action."

But, he said, he doesn't want action until he's given some kind of research data to indicate the impact of school uniforms on students.

"For me to support school uniforms, there has to be a body of data that supports it boosts student learning and student achievement," he emphasized.

Parent Luz Balderas was the only audience member moved to comment on the subject. Through an interpreter, Balderas said she didn't think the survey accurately reflected parent concerns. "But," she said, "It's also a decision of the board."

Cole agreed and said he felt the community had reached a point that it is ultimately a board decision.

All told, a reported 1,396 parents out of 6,067 participated in the survey, or 23 percent; 46 percent of staff members participated in the survey, and only 1,056 out of 6,063 students, or 17 percent, participated.

Another thing holding the school board back last night was the absence of school board officials Lorenzo Garza and Miguel Puente.

"Do we want to have all five for a decision?" asked School Board Director Rocky Simmons.

Ultimately, Carpenter challenged the staff to present evidence at the July school board meeting so that the issue can be addressed.

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