Earlier this month, Superintendent Dr. Charles Gobron forecasted requesting a close to 5% budget increase for Algonquin Regional High School. One of the staffing expenses included in the budget was for physical education.
Some commenters debated the importance.
This week, ARHS Principal Tom Mead sent a message to students’ parents. As they work on course selection for next year, he wanted them to know about important curriculum changes related to physical education.
In the explanation, he defends the importance of the request for increased PhysEd staffing. He explains that the goal is to provide physical education for each school grade (though not each semester).
That is a requirement that they have not been able to meet for several years:
For the past several years, we have been falling short of our requirement to provide adequate physical education for all of our students. During the past 4 years, preliminary budgets have contained requests for additional staffing to meet these requirements, but funding could not be found. This is understandable, in the sense that other mandates and government requirements were considered a higher priority, and thereby received budget support.
Once again, we are requesting additional staff to meet the laws of Massachusetts. Specifically, the law is contained in the Massachusetts General Laws (MGL) Chapter 71 (Public Schools), Section 3. It reads:
Physical education shall be taught as a required subject in all grades for all students in the public schools for the purpose of promoting the physical well-being of such students.
With the expectation that the request for additional staff (one teacher) will finally be approved through the budget process this year, we have designed a schedule to provide a health/fitness class for all grades at the high school. Students will take one class in the health and fitness course catalog each year, in the sequence of Personal Fitness, Health, Project Adventure and Outdoor Pursuits, and a senior year program currently under development. That will likely be a limited selection of popular elective classes. We hope our senior classes will encourage lifelong pursuits of physical, emotional, and health fitness, and be consistent with their course and fitness opportunities in college and beyond.
We will phase in this requirement gently for the class of 2015. They will be required to take just one term of the health and fitness program during their senior year. Students in the Class of 2016 will be required to enroll in health and fitness during their junior and senior years. And next year’s sophomores will only take the required Health class. We are sharing this information with you as you begin to plan your students’ course of study for the coming school year.
In the end, this merely adds one more semester to the current requirement we have, but spreads that over 4 years, instead of the current 2. And, while we have an impressive and extensive sports program at Algonquin, athletics are optional, and do not fully meet the state requirement as put forth in Chapter 71. Other academic departments are making tentative adjustments to accommodate this proposed plan, and those will be contained in our upcoming program of studies.
I remember having mandatory “gym class” every semester of high school when I was an Algonquin student in the 80’s. (Fellow alum, is my memory faulty?)
I was shocked when a friend told me recently that not every grade has gym. Does this news surprise you?