By Becky Terleski
The school board has rejected a proposal that would have cut in half the number of years that students have to take physical education.
The proposal would have made each gym class worth 0.5 credits instead of 0.25 credits. Students then would have been required to take only two years of gym, obtaining the required amount of credits during their freshman and sophomore years.
The school board considered the idea in December, but ultimately decided against making any changes at this point.
“The board had additional questions … and thought it was in the best interest to keep what they had,” Principal Kevin O’Toole said.
For all elective and semester classes, 0.5 credits are issued for a five-day per week class, while only 0.25 credits are issued per year for physical education.
“The PE proposal (would have) allowed for additional time in the junior and senior years for students who passed their PE in ninth and tenth grade,” Guidance Supervisor Stephanie McHugh said.
There is the fear that many students would have opted for an unproductive study hall to fill the void in their schedule. While study halls may help those students who play sports or take honors courses, it still leaves many students sitting in classrooms for 45 minutes instead of actively participating in an educational elective, McHugh said.
McHugh said it is possible that the issue could be revisited in the future.
“There are more issues to work through,” McHugh said, “and we’ll need to go back and tweak it.”
The school offers many different electives in all fields, from cooking to graphic design. Students have plenty of other options instead of choosing a study hall.
“There are a lot of electives available for kids to take, including electives in physical education,” O’Toole said.
The physical education department opposed the proposed change, according to a statement emailed by teacher Tim Laughlin on behalf of the department.
“As a department, we strongly believe in the importance of daily physical activity,” the teachers said.
Physical education is an important component for overall wellness and lifelong learning, the department said.
“With childhood obesity rates on the rise, increase in juvenile diabetes, and mental and social health concerns, it is important to improve the quality of life through life-long, health-enhancing physical activity,” the teachers said.
McHugh said that the school ran a simulation last year in which students were asked if they would still take a gym course if it was not required. Most students selected to take physical education when offered, whether it was required or not.
Another issue is the lack of participation during gym class, as some students do not participate in the sports played or change for class. Part of the proposal, turned down due to budgetary issues, was to implement new classes to draw interest and participation. An archery class has been contemplated as a new course, McHugh said.
An additional part of the proposal was to revamp the titles of the physical education classes. McHugh said the school was looking for diversity with classes such as yoga, Zumba, and lifeguarding.
O’Toole said that there is Honors PE as well. The students have the opportunity to challenge themselves in physical education with the choices they are already given.