School uniform prices vary across Jersey City; some parents say selected vendor prices too expensive for working families, single parents

JERSEY CITY – With the 2013-2014 academic year set to begin next week, some Jersey City parents say they are struggling to cover expenses as they try to buy required uniforms for their children’s schools.
One parent activist who raised the issue at the Aug. 27 School Board meeting said several single parents have told her they are finding it difficult to pay for uniforms, particularly uniforms that must be purchased from specific vendors.
The price of required clothing for student uniforms can vary widely, depending on which school the child attends. While many schools sell shirts, with required school emblems, and allow parents to buy slacks, dresses, and skirts in the mandated school colors, other schools require parents to purchase uniforms from specific vendors.
Students at the Ezra L. Nolan School (MS 40), for example, are required to purchase their uniforms from Jay’s School Uniforms, where a winter shirt can cost as much as $18. Students at the Frank R. Conwell School (PS 3) are required to get their uniforms from the website Short sleeved shirts on the site can range from $8.98 to $12.98, depending on the size, while long sleeved shirts can range from $9.98 to $14.98, prices that are lower than Jay’s.
School Board Trustee Vidya Gangadin said at the Aug. 27 meeting that she is able to buy her children’s school clothes at Kid’s Town which, she said, “is very cheap.”
The uniform issue is no trivial matter, as parents told School Board members Wednesday. Students who show up at school in clothing and colors that do not meet school uniform requirements can be suspended, and parents believe that too many uniform-related suspensions could cause the school district to report them to the Division of Youth and Family Services.
Maryanne Dickar, chief of staff with Superintendent Marcia Lyles, confirmed yesterday that “school uniform decisions have been made at the school level,” and the decision as to where parents must buy uniforms is not set by the Board of Education or the school district administration.
However, Dickar added, “We want to ensure that no policies place an undue burden on families. Schools will provide uniform shirts to any family that needs support. We are also reviewing current practices with an eye to keeping uniform costs down.” – E. Assata Wright

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