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Bryant plans to phone parents on dress code

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Following the second low voter turnout in two weeks, a Bryant Intermediate committee is bagging ballots to phone-poll parents on whether to implement school uniforms.

"You want to include the parents in the decision as much as humanly possible. You don't want parents to feel they have been excluded from the process," said Judy Eror, PTA president-elect and member of a 15-member school uniform committee of Bryant students, teachers and parents.Bryant parents have two options: a school uniform dress code, with slacks, long shorts or skirts and solid-color shirts (colors to be determined by students) or a tightened dress code banning short shorts, sleeveless tops, thong sandals and sagging or torn clothes.

At last month's election, just 103 of 700 families of incoming seventh- and eighth-graders showed up to the polls, and just three votes separated the options. Wednesday's election brought voter turnout to one-third of families. Twenty votes separate the options, with uniforms winning so far.

Ballots also have been returned without a vote but detailing the voter's feelings on the issue. Some have called the proposal "un-American," Eror said. At a hearing last month, some parents were angry to learn the tightened dress code would take effect if uniforms did not pass.

Callers will ask parents whether they had received mailed materials about the proposal and explain the proposals if necessary. Then, they will ask which proposal they prefer.

"At a time when parents think they're not listened to, I think the (school) is trying to bend over backward and listen," Eror said.

The issue of school uniforms has been tamed since Salt Lake's Nibley Park Elementary premiered uniforms two years ago and as more schools come on board. In February, North Layton Elementary in the Davis School District became the state's first junior high to approve uniforms, with none of the shouting matches, name-calling and threats of transfers that other schools have faced.

In that light, Bryant's voter turnout is what could be expected, said Nibley Park principal Jane Larson.

"If you look at any election - take president of the United States - turnout is pretty low," she said. But the dialogue is still there.

"Where have we sat down in a forum and spent so much time discussing children? If that's doing good, we've had some success."

Bryant's uniforms proposal aims to alleviate status and cliques based on clothing labels. Opponents say the policy would put too much financial pressure on parents and force them to search high and low for label-less clothing.

The uniform proposal follows a parent survey indicating uniforms would be favorable. Teachers say students needs stricter dress standards.

"As long as we make a decision before the last day of school, it's OK," Eror said. School ends June 10.