GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Thousands of Grand Rapids students will soon head back to school to see big changes, including a new uniform policy.
GRPS will phase in a district-wide uniform policy over the next three years as part of the new Transformation Plan. Beginning this year, all elementary and K-8 students will need to go to school dressed in uniform. Some parents are worried about additional costs.
"We have heard that too and in the long run, uniforms save parents money," said district spokesperson, John Helmholdt. "We previously had eight schools that required uniforms. What we know about it is it puts more focus on teaching and learning and less focus on that peer pressure. It actually has created a calmer environment with less distractions and less bullying related to whatever the children may be wearing."
Helmholdt says the district has funds to provide help to families who may need assistance buying uniforms.
"Principals each have a 'principals fund' that is funded by the Grand Rapids Student Advancement Foundation so they can support those families in need if they need help with a uniform. We also have our uniform closets. Every single school will be stocked with a closet of tops and bottoms that they use if a child shows up and they are not in uniform. We are not going to send them home. We are going to provide them with a uniform for that day and then we are going to communicate with the parents and if they need additional help and support, we are going to work with them," said Helmholdt.
Under the uniform policy, students must wear collared tops that are black, navy, light blue, red, white or orange. Bottoms must be khaki, navy or black. Helmholdt says a full uniform averages $20 dollars at any of the district's four preferred vendors.
More information can be found on the district website and in the student handbook.