After strong debate Tuesday night, Lodi Unified School District trustees voted to exempt high school student-athletes from a second year of physical education to give them the option of taking an additional academic class instead.
The board voted 6-0, with trustee Joe Nava abstaining, to allow students to have a second year of physical education waived if they meet the three requirements:
They take a full year of physical education in their freshman year.
They pass five of the six components of the state physical fitness test.
They compete in at least two different sports within the same school year. The word “different” was added to the motion at board member Bonnie Cassel’s request, so that students who actually compete in only one sport can’t be credited with two.
The board’s decision affects students at Lodi Unified’s four comprehensive high schools — Lodi, Tokay, Bear Creek and McNair.
Several teachers and parents spoke for and against the change. Currently, students must take two physical education classes to graduate. Some said it would allow someone hoping to become valedictorian to take an additional Advanced Placement class, while others said it would allow other college-bound students take an extra academic course.
However, some people defended the two-year physical education requirement, saying that students would be denied other physical activities, such as dancing, if they took only one year of physical education, said Lodi High School physical education teacher Lynette Haley.
Lodi High School Athletic Director Erin Aitken said the board’s decision could affect 29 male and 17 female student-athletes at Lodi High School.
Lodi High School basketball coach Dave Nutting, whose son is a freshman, told the board that it would be impossible to determine whether a student passes five of the six components of the physical fitness test. For freshmen who take the test, results don’t come in until October of their sophomore year because the state analyzes the results based on the student’s height, weight and body mass index, Nutting said.
Lodi High School teacher Brad Friesen asked how school counselors will be able to schedule students in the spring for the next school year if they don’t know if the student qualifies for the physical education exemption. Students could take physical education in their junior year if they fail the test.
Dawn Vetica, assistant superintendent for secondary schools, said that teachers will have an idea whether a given student is likely to pass the physical fitness test.
Board President Ralph Womack said that trustees must screen through comments that “the sky is falling.”
“I enjoyed P.E. when I went to school. I could have done without it,” Womack said. “Badminton was good — but I didn’t need it.”
Womack said he doesn’t expect a mass exodus from physical education classes, even if students can waive a second year.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.