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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 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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