CLIFFSIDE PARK, N.J. — A newly-proposed uniform policy in the Cliffside Park School District is raising concerns among many parents.
Nicole Costaldo says she is fundamentally against uniforms for a multitude of reasons, but her core anger stems from the fact that the discussion is a misguided appropriation of energy and time.
"Wouldn’t their time be better suited to discuss school expansions, test scores and outdoor playground facilities?" Costaldo said.
Schools Superintendent Michael Romagnino maintained that the Cliffside Park School District is not solely focusing on the proposed uniform policy.
"We don't focus on one issue, we focus on many at the same time," the superintendent told Daily Voice Friday.
"To say that I or the board or principal are focusing on one issue is not true."
The idea for uniforms was raised at a board of education meeting back in September, and Romagnino was tasked with launching a committee, he said.
The committee is a cross-selection of students, parents and school administrators, tasked with gauging interest from the community.
The group met a couple times, and Romagnino encouraged members to report the information back to their families and community members for discussion.
A public hearing on the uniform policy will be held on Tuesday to aid Romagnino and the committee, he said.
"I’m trying to collect as much info as possible so that the board can decide if they want to move forward," Romagnino said. "No decision has been made."
Costaldo suggested that Cliffside Park Mayor and Council are behind the decision. Daily Voice left a message with Mayor Thomas Calabrese on Friday and is awaiting a response.
"When you use the word 'uniform,' you think of what Catholic schools wore in the 1960s," Romagnino said.
The proposal says students would wear red or black polo shirts with a district logo, and either khakis or twill pants, skirts or skorts — no jeans.
Cliffside Park parent Tanja Grandov feels a uniform policy may affect property values in town.
"In my opinion, the town is up-and-coming and has great potential to be the next Hoboken or Edgewater in respect to real estate," she said in an email to Daily Voice.
"The proposed uniform policy will negatively affect the positive growth of our town.
"The only schools in Bergen County that have uniforms are poorer, lower-performing schools like Fairview, Garfield, and Elmwood Park. I do not want Cliffside Park to be grouped with those schools and receive a negative image because of this new proposed uniform policy."
Muska Hasandjekic, who has two children in the school system, is in favor of uniforms and hopes they will make her kids and their peers more appreciative.
"A lot of these kids are so materialistic and they don't realize how expensive it is to keep up with the trends," she said.
"By everyone looking equal, we'd focus on the more important stuff."
Grandov's concern, however, is that uniforms would not allow students to freely express themselves.
"I want my child to be able to choose what they want to wear," she said.
Costaldo noted the comfort factor.
"Schools don't have air conditioning, so to put them in khakis and polyster polos in June is not going to be conducive for the best optimal learning environment," she said.
"Education is most definitely my higher issue and what the board should be focusing on."