BAKER — With just over a week until the new school year begins, many parents are having problems obtaining uniforms all the Baker district’s students are required to wear to class.
“I have gotten calls from several parents who cannot afford uniforms. They went to the places where we recommended that they buy the uniform shirts and they wouldn’t put the logo on the shirts. They were told they had to buy the whole shirt,” board member Doris Alexander said during Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
Baker students wear red shirts with the school logo. The shirts must be purchased from Burning Sands International on Plank Road or MPrint Advertising Specialties on Wooddale Boulevard.
According to Burning Sands International’s website, Baker uniform shirts cost $8 each.
Both businesses are located in Baton Rouge, another point of contention during the meeting.
“Why are we encouraging people to take their funds to Baton Rouge?” Alexander asked. She said that if people were able to buy uniforms in Baker, the tax revenue would go to local schools.
“We just want to try to have all the students wear the same color and logo shirt. We worried they might wear ones that are too dark or too light,” Superintendent Ulysses Joseph said.
“There are organizations that can help. Besides, surely there are parents who have children that have grown out of the shirts and they can donate them,” board President Elaine Davis said.
“Last year was the first year we had uniforms, and besides, these shirts are of such low quality that they wear out after a year,” said Elaine Noble, a paraprofessional at Baker Heights.
She added that students on free or reduced lunch can get free uniforms through the St. Vincent de Paul Society, but Baker students cannot use the shirts because of the logo requirement.
The board agreed to hold a work session on the issue at an unnamed future time.
At the end of the meeting, Joseph addressed the F rating recently given to three Baker schools by the Louisiana Department of Education.
Joseph attributed the low scores to staff turnover: “We had two or three different principals at Bakerfield and two at Baker Middle. This put us at a disadvantage. I thought the schools did well, given the circumstances.”
Baker Heights Elementary, Baker Middle and Bakerfield Elementary all received a score of less than 75 out of a possible 200.
In 2011, the first year the letter system was implemented, only schools with scores of less than 65 were given an F. Joseph equated the state’s decision to change the requirement with “moving the goalposts.”
“I hope at the end of this school year the schools will be better. I know they will. I can feel it,” he said.