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Middle School Required Shirt Plan to Navigate Fiscal Challenges

Peekskill proposal seeks to help students build team spirit, unity and loyalty.

Peekskill officials have welcomed a proposal for students to be required to wear branded school shirts designed to encourage a spirit of team building at Peekskill Middle School but acknowledged that some loose ends need to be sewn up first.

“Now is the time” for shirts that build a sense of unity and loyalty among students, Dr. David Fine, principal, said during a presentation to the Board of Education Tuesday, June 19. He cited continuing cultural and academic focus as signs that “the time is right” for shirts.

Fine and others launched the shirt project around the beginning of 2012 and have developed a series of logos and colors, which are on display in the lobby of the 600-student school, which opened in 2009. Logos to date include generic art, music, athletics and a pitchfork for the Peekskill Red Devils mascot. Fine said 80, 75 and 60 percent of incoming sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, respectively, have placed advance orders for shirts, subject to board approval of the program. He said a manufacturer had agreed to provide a package of four shirts for $10; students would wear the shirts Mondays through Thursdays and dress according to their own discretion on Fridays.

Fine described the proposal as “positive for the students and financially palatable for the parents,” adding that funds were available to cover the cost for families that could not afford shirts. He said the orders would be finalized if the board approved the project.

Board members Douglas Glickert and Michael Simpkins described the shirts as “a great idea,” with Simpkins adding his hope that the project would spread throughout the district to promote pride and spirit.

Gregory Sullivan, assistant superintendent for business, interjected several notes of caution in an analysis of the proposal’s financial and material aspects. “We haven’t done anything like this before, and there are many things to consider,” he said. Concerns about entering “the murky area of merchandising” included financial statements, sales records, inventory storage, controls and security.

Fine acknowledged the “bear” of monitoring the program and noted that inventory at the school would be limited to shirts needed to fill orders plus a few extra; the remainder would be stored by the manufacturer until needed. In response to Sullivan’s concerns, “Let’s do this the right way,” he said.

Board President Joseph Urbanowicz congratulated Fine on the proposal and Sullivan on his “thorough analysis and fiscal guidance. … You are both doing what we want you to do. … We will work this out.”   

Katie Schmidt Feder June 23, 2012 at 09:36 PM
I was at this meeting and as I understand it - this does not create any charge to the taxpayer. The manufacturer is subsidizing the cost of the initial purchase which is why the shirts are very affordable at 4 for $10. I think Dr. Fine was wise to get kids involved with the design and logos available to the kids - so they can take some ownership of the options. As for the person who wonders why the school does not enforce proper attire - I am quite sure they do attempt to do so. I feel staff time and energy is better spent on education rather than determining if a girl's skirt is too short or asking repeatedly for a boy to belt his pants. We all know it should be a parent's responsibility to make sure their child leaves the house properly dressed for school - but that isn't always the case (and middle schoolers will certainly have the wherewithall to make changes on the WAY to school). The kids still can wear what they want on the bottom and show their fashion flair on Fridays - as they do not have to wear the shirts and can dress how they like within code. From what I understand - the student body is in favor of this with an 80% return on orders thus far. I agree with Gillian - it can be a possitive for the school. Dr. Fine has - by all accounts - changed the environment a great deal at the middle school for the possitive over the last 5 years. I support whatever he thinks will keep Peekskill Middle School on that path!
Leslie Lawler June 23, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I agree with you both Gillian and Katie. This is a positive step, one at a time albeit, in the right direction. Whether in school, or in the workplace, how we dress is a form of nonverbal communication. I think Dr. Fine's initiative is both positive, doable, and will help the students instill a sense of pride....and in some cases, even a sense of security and belonging. Four shirts for $10 is wonderful. It might be nice to reach out to the community if anyone wants to follow Gillian's great idea to donate so that those less-fortunate can have as well. I'd like to as a small thanks to those that educated my son when he attended there.
leesther brown June 24, 2012 at 01:19 PM
I too agree with Leslie,Katie and Gillian.I will be giving a donation....Great Idea Dr.Fine.
HI July 24, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Thank You, Gillian
HI July 31, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Kids ONLY have to wear shirts...if you don't like it...its not like u have to wear it. If kids don't wear the shirts on required days, they get suspended. They are totally affordable..if the parents cant afford the 10 dollars, the school can help them with that.

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