CAIRO, IL (KFVS) - Changes ahead for the 2014 school year in Cairo: The district voted 5-1-1 to move to a school uniform policy when classes start next year.
"The biggest reason is preparing our students to be college and career ready, we want to prepare our students to be professionals and uniforms will help us do that," said Superintendent Andrea Evers.
"I think it's a great thing. we talk about wanting our kids to be ready for a university or enter the work force and this is helping them be more professional," said Mary Beth Goff, Cairo 6th grade teacher.
Evers explains the process started about three year ago when parents originally brought up the idea. After a series of meetings, community forums, and parent orientations, they decided to put the policy to a vote. The board passed the policy in February.
"One member abstained because he owns an apparel business," explained Evers. "The other member just felt it would have an impact on students expressing themselves."
The policy includes wearing professional or school appropriate khakis in pants, shorts, or knee-length skirts and royal blue, white, or black polo shirts. Right now, administrators are discussing how to enforce the dress code.
"Students are still free to choose their shoes, jewelry, or belts and find other ways to express their individuality with their own style," said Evers.
The policy includes the districts some 500 students in grades K-12. When Heartland News visited the school some students were already wearing the new uniform look.
"I like that we can pick whatever shirt we want and that I can still pick whatever shoes I want. It makes it easy in the morning," said Malachi Brown, an 8th grade student who is already wearing his blue polo.
"I think it will make us look like a family, more professional," said Ronald Henderson, a senior who doesn't have to wear the uniform since the policy doesn't go into place until next year, but chose to because he was so excited them. "I was excited to represent my school when we go to games and things like that. I think the uniforms are a really positive thing."
"I am happy for it because then I don't have to buy many pairs of clothes, it will safe me some money," said Keosha Woods, a teacher's aid and also parent of a future student.
Parents originally brought up the idea of uniforms for a lot of reasons: school unity, to eliminate any possibility a child could be made fun of for his/her clothing, and for others to cut back to school shopping cost.
However there is actually a fund to help provide students with uniforms if money is an issue and they meet certain criteria.
"Of course our district is faced with a lot of poverty and since we are required to provide a uniform for every child who qualifies for free and reduced lunch so we are looking for anyone who would like to help us provide a new uniform for a child next year," said Evers.
She says a typical uniform costs about $25.
"One of our teachers picks up khaki pants every time she can and it is starting to trickle in and we are hoping our neighbors will lend a helping hand as well."