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B-W Considers Cutting High School Gym Requirements in Half

The suggested measure was debated at a school board meeting on Wednesday night.

Citing a 17-percent obesity rate among U.S. children, Larry Pantuso of the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board objected to a recommendation made by school administrators on Wednesday night to cut Baldwin High School's physical education requirements in half.

At Wednesday's school board meeting, B-W School District Director of Curriculum Andrea Huffman laid out an idea for board members to consider: Require students to complete only two semesters of physical education in order to graduate from Baldwin High, down from the current requirement of four semesters.

Administration says that it can do this while not upsetting the amount of credits that students need to graduate. Right now, one semester of physical education, or "gym class," is worth one-quarter of a credit at Baldwin, and if taken once every school year, students would earn the one credit of physical education required to graduate.

But, as Huffman pointed out on Wednesday, gym class takes up the same amount of instruction time as the school's half-credit classes, so her recommendation is to weigh physical education as a half-credit class and require graduates to take the class just twice.

Students could still choose to take physical education classes as electives after fulfilling their two-semester gym requirement. And B-W's Assistant Superintendent Denise Sedlacek said that freeing up those extra two class periods per student for choosing electives will give students more opportunities to take classes that interest them or that could help their careers. They could elect to spend more time at Steel Center Area Vocational Technical School, for example.

"It's really going to give our kids an edge up as to what they can take," Sedlacek said, referencing classes in the arts and industrial technology that may see an increase in enrollment.

A decrease in the amount of students in each gym class may come along with that, Sedlacek said, meaning increased attention for each physical education student, especially those that choose to continue taking gym classes after meeting the two-semester requirement.

As Huffman said, "Our goal, certainly, is to meet the needs of every student."

But Pantuso was not convinced, arguing that it's important to give all children the exercise each year that physical education classes offer.

"That may be the only physical activity that those children get during the course of their day," he said.

Fellow board member Nancy Lee Crowder, however, pointed out that physical education was never a year-round requirement for each Baldwin student.

"I find it hard to believe that it's going to affect BMI (body mass index) a great deal," Crowder said. "What do they do the other semester (of the school year)? They don't even have a gym class (that semester)."

Jennifer Yanko, the school district's student board representative for the sophomore class, agreed with that statement from Crowder and also pointed out that the high school has been making other strides to lower students' BMI, such as instituting a healthier lunch menu.

Before they approve or reject the administration's recommendation, board President John B. Schmotzer said that he would like his fellow board members to see a survey done of current Baldwin underclassmen, asking them what they would do with their freed class periods if the physical education requirements were to be cut in half. (Schmotzer officially resigned from his board seat on Wednesday.)

The board will make a decision on the administration's recommendation at a later date.

Read through other Baldwin-Whitehall School Board items here.

And check back with the Baldwin-Whitehall Patch on Thursday for more news from Wednesday night's school board meeting.

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NE12Ukid November 15, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Cutting PE----bad idea.
Proud Baldwin Parent November 15, 2012 at 11:42 PM
These kids today need more physical activity and for many, this is there only time during a day. Pennsylvania has been named the 17th most obese state in the country according to a report from the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Along with that childhood obesity rates in many counties in PA are showing rates that are alarming. The PE program is educating our kids on how to maintain healthy lives along with keeping them physically active throughout their 4 years in the high school and that should not be changed. As a parent of children that went through this district and with one still in the high school, I would not want to see my child or others lose that time of exercise and wellness. We all know these are tough times, but this is a bad idea and could have real negative consequences if left to a child's opinion. Just my thoughts and probably the thoughts of many others parents and taxpayers!
Roger Overandout November 16, 2012 at 12:02 AM
The new lunches are so bad that the children do not have the energy for gym class any more.
cc November 16, 2012 at 12:49 AM
I know my daughter hasn't bought a school lunch, milk, ice tea, etc since they started serving crap at school. She's been brown bagging lunch since Labor Day and days she forgets her lunch at home she would rather starve then purchase what they are trying to pass off as food.
NE12Ukid November 16, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Maybe her mother could remind her to take her lunch so she won't "starve" between breakfast and the afterschool snacks.
cc November 16, 2012 at 10:08 AM
Ne12ukid one an old nasty lady always an old nasty lady, why don't you go crawl back under your rock or I forgot you got the landscaper coming today because what you pay him on Fridays is enough to support his family so he won't have to have any other jobs.
Proud Baldwin Parent November 16, 2012 at 11:42 AM
I hope the board really takes this idea and realizes our kids could really be hurt by this. Both of my first two children were very active and I never had to worry about them, but my third is not a sports minded person and activity isn't his first love. That being said, what they do at the high school keeps him active more than what he woudl be getting at home. I have talked to the teachers many times trying to see how he does and they say he does a wonderful job and really gives 100% in everything they do. Without this program I would worry he would lose all interest in anything active at all. This is a time for physical activity and learning how to keep yourself healthy all your life. I just don't see how you can cut that down and give all the choice to the kids! I know by reading Mr. Pantuso's comments that he understands my comments very well and that with obesity rates on the rise and the use of technology making all of us way more lazy than in the past, these requirement changes would only hurt our kids and not help them. Well, it would hurt a child like mine that may not get much if any physical activity like he currently is. Please don't do this!
PghFan November 16, 2012 at 01:50 PM
I totally agree Proud Baldwin Parent. They don't need to cut the physical activity, but increase it. Maybe the board should look at the overall physical education curriculum and provide exciting ways to foster fitness year-round. How about yoga, Pilates, boot camp, rock climbing, Water Polo, hiking, kick boxing, or introducing new sports. http://www.ihpra.org/ABCNEWS_com%20%20No%20Sweat%20When%20Gym%20Class%20Cut.htm
Concerned family November 16, 2012 at 02:23 PM
1) By cutting physical education in half, you are in essence going to increase the obesity rate. As said before, PA is ranked 17th in obesity. This is not a competition that we want to rate higher in. If anything, physical education should be changed to increase activity, giving these teens a release time from the books. Research has shown that physical activity helps with brain activity! Maybe the instructors should be teaching better. Maybe there should be better learning opportunities. Vocational schools are okay, but high school kids do not necessarily know what they want to do when they get out of school. BAD IDEA. 2) for all of you complaining about the lunches, it is a requirement that is good for them. Portion control, calorie control, and healthier food. PERIOD! My kids do not have a problem with the lunches as they were already eating healthier at home. It is a change that takes awhile to get use to. It starts with us. Please do not do this!!
Sandra November 16, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I agree PghFan with your idea of introducing new ways to provide fitness. Your ideas are things that they can use in the real world at home and/or after they graduate. Also walking and running goals could be useful. I remember playing volleyball every gym day during my senior year of high school (a long time ago), which pretty much required us to change your place in rotation after every round = not much physical activity. So just because there is a "gym" class, it doesn't necessarily mean they are getting exercise.
NE12Ukid November 17, 2012 at 01:22 AM
Thanks for sharing your most recent delusional rant, cc.
NE12Ukid November 17, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I agree, Concerned family, ideally the students should have some kind of PE every day. I know a school that had PE only two days a week, and they started having the kids walk x times around the track before entering the lunch room. Something like that, not necessarily identical, might be good for the students who are not taking PE that day. Without the specifics of their HS schedules I could not be more specific, but hopefully SOME creative mind at the HS could figure out a way to provide this at a minimal cost---like the teacher walking with them, the teachers (and all the adults) would benefit from a little 10 minute brisk walk too.
Sarah November 17, 2012 at 01:56 AM
This makes no sense to me. In the elementary schools they ask parents to not bring "unhealthy" snacks for bdays and parties. They make suggestions like grapes and non-food items. Then we consider cutting out physical activity at the high school??? Make up your mind... is it schools responsibilty to control obesity or not? And about the school lunches, my son eats healthy at home. He thinks the school lunches are nasty. I don't care much since I pack him a lunch. I DO care about the fact that it costs a fortune to buy lunches. Why do they need to make such a profit on ice tea?? They cost 33 cents each at schneider's dairy... I'm sure if I bought as many as school they'd cost even less. Wouldn't double be plenty?
NE12Ukid November 17, 2012 at 02:30 AM
I don't know what they charge for iced tea, Sarah, nor what kind they serve, but I do agree with you that cuting PE is a stupid idea, they should be adding MORE PE, not cutting it!
cc November 17, 2012 at 04:16 AM
ne12ukid your the one that is delusional and a stalker. No matter what thread I write on you have to follow me and write your nasty comments. To bad you don't have a life, friends and family you have scared everyone away with your moronic answers to everything. I pitty ever one of your neighbors.
cc November 17, 2012 at 04:22 AM
another fantasy coming from ne12ukid funny I could not find one school that makes children walk the track before they are allowed to eat lunch. That is something a school would not be able to do. There are schools out there that does have PE only 2 days a week but they go to PE all year also.
cc November 17, 2012 at 04:33 AM
All schools now are serving healthy foods, my nephew teaches at Peters and says their lunches are awesome for healthy eating, have nieces and nephews at Bethel that say the same about their food, Then we go Baldwin that is serving nasty food to our students. Maybe they need to hire someone to cook at the school that knows how to make food taste better, add a few spices to the food. After all their are more spices in life then just salt but that always seemed to be the main spice at the school and it was cut out completely. Sarah everything that they serve at the school that they buy elsewhere like yogurts, tea's fruit cups that are more than double and triple in price of what they are sold elsewhere. I go up to the Dairy once a week and buy my child ice tea and then freeze it over night. Then by the time she eats lunch her ice tea, mike, orange juice is thawed but still cold.
NE12Ukid November 17, 2012 at 04:59 AM
If your kid doesn't like the school lunch, pack your kid a lunch to go along with her frozen "mike". Problem solved,

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