PHOENIXVILLE - The school board authorized the purchase of 100 new Phantom Marching Band uniforms, at last week's meeting.

Although the purchase of approximately $22,000 will not be final until next year's Phoenixville Area School District budget is approved, the board agreed to jump-start the bidding process as a time saving measure.

Phoenixville Area High School Band Director Mike Britcher hopes that the band will be able to first wear the new duds during a Bands of America Regional competition on October 9, 2004.

The current Phantom uniforms only give the appearance of being partially white from a distance and are frayed around the edges with several buttons missing from many of the current wool uniforms.

Marching band members will be able to layer clothing beneath the machine washable fabric. The current uniforms are dry clean only. The new uniforms may be repaired more easily.

"After competing on a Friday night in muddy conditions, the kids will have a chance to throw the new uniforms in the washing machine before performing at a football game on Saturday afternoon," said Britcher.

Britcher said that the new uniforms made from synthetic material will allow students to layer clothing during cold weather and not restrict the range of motion.

Brian Giebler modeled the current uniform. He had nothing but good things to say about the new uniforms.

"They are much more flexible," said Giebler. "The new uniforms are so much classier. We had to bring sweatshirts into the stands following competitions because we couldn't fit anything underneath."

"I'm just trying to imagine 75 of these on the field at the same time," said Britcher. "The kids will look sharp and clean."

The current 11-year-old uniforms generally have a life expectancy of only eight years.

According to the school board , money to purchase the uniforms this year will come from the 2005-2006 budget, which was originally allocated for new instruments for Middle School students. Middle school students will likely wait an extra year and then receive everything currently allotted.

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