Uniform Policy Is A Wash

WHEELING – Free uniforms for service employees in Ohio County Schools are officially no more, and all school employees will be required to wear identification badges when school starts Aug. 18, Ohio County Board of Education members said Monday night.

Policy mandating the badges was introduced at Monday’s board meeting, intended to replace past policy rescinded by the board this month requiring service personnel to wear uniforms.

“(The badges) are currently being printed,” said Superintendent Dianna Vargo. “The badge does contain a hologram. They look great.”

There are about 800 Ohio County Schools employees who will need a badge, and most of those for whom the district has photos have been printed, according to technology director Patrick Riddle.

The prior uniform policy provided free uniforms and laundering services to employees at an annual cost of about $60,000 to the district. Board members previously said the district would continue to provide uniforms to employees who wanted them, but they acknowledged Monday night that was not the case.

Sam McColloch, a representative of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association, spoke before the board and asked them to clarify the uniform policy.

“From what I’ve been reading, if you want to wear uniforms you are more than welcome to wear uniforms,” he said. “Am I correct in assuming that?”

Board members said no.

“It’s a done deal then? No one has uniforms anymore?” McCulloch said.

He was told that was correct.

McCulloch said he did favor eliminating the uniforms, which he said looked unprofessional. But some employees see them as beneficial.

Employee Felicia Harto said she spoke for the cooks in the district, who still want to wear uniforms and weren’t consulted before the board moved to eliminate them.

“They save time and money – which now could be a hardship for them to go and buy them,” she said. “Second, staff is more identified. It’s a safety measure.”

A child will recognize the uniforms, while an ID badge won’t be as visible, Harto said.