After 13 years, Fulton Elementary in Springfield does away with uniforms

Deborah Howard, the principal at Fulton Elementary in Springfield, stops to admire one of the dragons that decorate the halls of the school Thursday in preparation of the new school year. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Parents of Fulton Elementary School students won’t have to worry about buying new uniforms before the first day of school.

The elementary school, which is in the Springfield City School District, has decided to do away with uniforms after requiring them for the last 13 years.

Fulton will instead be embracing the same dress-code as the rest of the district — which is basically the same across all Clark and Champaign County schools.

“We don’t want there to be anything that keeps students from showing up on the first day,” said Fulton Elementary Principal Deborah Howard.

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Howard, who is just beginning her first year as principal at Fulton, said she has worked in districts with uniforms and without and hasn’t seem much of a change in student behavior either way.

“I’m glad the district came to this decision,” Howard said. “I don’t think we will have any increase in behavioral problems. We want to do whatever we can to get students in the door the first day of school.”

Sometimes uniforms can actually cause an increase in discipline problems, Howard said, due to the fact that a student might not want to follow the uniform dress-code or might have problems at home that keep them from following the uniform-code.

“There can be problems with a student not showing up for school because maybe their uniform was dirty, or they out-grew it, and their parents maybe can’t afford to replace it,” Howard said.

Howard hopes the new, more relaxed, dress-code will help students embrace their creativity.

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Fulton, which is located at 631 S. Yellow Springs St. in Springfield, began requiring uniforms in 2006. The district announced they would be moving to a traditional district-code last month.

Previously, students had the option of wearing khakis or navy blue pants, skirts, dresses or jumpers, and a yellow, white or navy blue polo shirt.

Howard said students are more than welcome to continue wearing their old uniforms if they would like.

“If they want to wear the pants or the polo they are more than welcome,” Howard said.

Howard said Fulton now has an excess of uniforms in stock from previous school years. The elementary school kept extra sets of shirts and pants in case a student required a change of clothes during the school day.

The district is currently in the process of deciding where to donate the uniforms.

In the weeks leading up to the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the Springfield News-Sun will be proving back to school news, including funding and policy changes, within Clark and Champaign County school district.