Standardized dress code cost for families - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Standardized dress code cost for families

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- Starting in 2011, Waterloo schools are requiring all students to follow what they're calling, a Standardized Dress Code. The school board is planning to raise private donations, but has vowed not to use taxpayer dollars to help families pay for new clothes. So we're looking into how much the new dress code will cost parents.

If you're shopping at an average retail store, like JC Penney's, you're looking at spending about $25 on a pair of adult-sized black, navy or khaki pants. Kids pants, are about $18. You can get an average polo shirt for less than $10.

At Walmart, adult pants sell for about $16.50. Kids slacks are $13, and a unisex polo is currently selling for just $5.

When you're looking at buying several shirts, and a couple pairs of pants, you can see how it adds up. Especially for the sixty percent of kids in the district qualify for free or reduced lunches. One place they can turn, is Goodwill.

"All our items are priced $3.95," said Goodwill spokesperson Wendy Knapp.

Which means you'll pay less than eight bucks for an entire outfit. The problem is they can only sell what they receive as donations. Which means you may have to make more than one trip to find the sizes or styles you're looking for, especially popular items like polo shirts and slacks.

"Those items also go out the store the same day. So the key is, to shop often," said Knapp.

For some families, even eight dollars is too much to ask. Which is why Patricia King founded "Eye of the Needle."

"Most of the people who will be coming to us will have large families, and they can't afford to buy. Cause it gets to be kind of expensive when you have to buy several pairs of pants and shirts. Especially if you have older kids," she said.

"Eye of the Needle" provided uniforms for more than fifty kids at Cunningham Elementary and Carver Middle School this year. King expects demand to skyrocket when the new policy begins. But she's promising to do whatever she can to make sure any family who needs help, can get it.

"They already have enough things to worry about, so we didn't want that to be an issue for them," she explained.

King said families who need assistance can stop by Eye of the Needle at 607 Sycamore Street and fill out an application. You should bring your children so King can measure which size pant and shirt they'll need. The store is open Monday through Friday. On Tuesday's Eye of the Needle is only open in the afternoon -- King volunteers at a hospital that day.

She's always looking for donations to keep her program running. You can either buy approved clothing and drop it off, or donate money. For more information, call King at 319-215-6151.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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