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Lodi Unified School District board considers waiver of some physical education for athletes

Options could allow for extra academic classes for some students

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Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:05 am, Wed Nov 14, 2012.

Isaac Herrera, 14, has already gotten his hour of daily exercise in by the time the final school bell rings each day. Like most freshman students, he is enrolled in physical education and spent fourth period doing push-ups and jogging around the gym.

But another workout is waiting for him at 6:30 p.m., when Lodi High School's junior varsity basketball practice begins. Herrera thinks two rounds of exercise in a day might be too much.

"P.E. is kind of easy. I could use that time for study hall or another class," said Herrera.

The Lodi Unified School District board considered allowing Herrera, and all student athletes, to waive the P.E. requirement at Tuesday's meeting.

The goal is to give a break to students who play on a school sports team and make room for them to enroll in other classes.

Three options were brainstormed by a committee of Lodi Unified students, teachers, coaches, principals and district staff. They met several times last year to discuss the issue, but it was tabled before it could be presented to the board.

Currently, students must take two years of P.E., or 20 credits. California Education Code requires all freshman students to take a P.E. class, but offers flexibility in 10th grade and beyond.

One option would allow student athletes to waive five P.E. credits for each season of a sport they complete, potentially counting for both years of P.E.

Another would let students waive up to 10 P.E. credits if they earned an A or a B in their first year of P.E., or if students pass at least five sections of the California Physical Fitness Test.

The third option requires a student athlete to enroll in a zeroor seventh-period P.E. class, but that student would not attend P.E. while his or her sport is in season.

None of the options would allow for the waived credits to count toward the 230 graduation credit requirement, but it would make room to add an additional class. All require the student to file a signed contract with the school.

Lodi Unified schools do not offer study hall, so that would not be an alternate option for student athletes.

Jennifer Cassel, a Tokay High School teacher and member of the committee, said offering a P.E. credit honors student athletes who are representing their schools and the district.

"These are kids who have devoted time and a lot of dedication to something larger than themselves," she said.

Two Tokay High student athletes spoke in favor of more flexibility at the meeting. Anthony Sorbrera, 17, mentioned two friends who were injured during P.E. right before a cross country race.

But Scott Berghold, a P.E. teacher at McNair High School, said physical activity is not the same as physical education. Students would not get the same broad education by competing in a sport as they do in P.E.

Berghold also mentioned a previous committee that worked on finding P.E. credits for athletes, but their work was not presented to the board.

Brad Friesen, a Lodi High School P.E. teacher and member of that same committee, expressed concern that students focusing on one competitive sport throughout the year will never be exposed to something new.

Board members indicated that they would like to see a district policy to allow student athletes to waive their second year of P.E.

Trustee Ralph Womack said there shouldn't be a concern that student athletes aren't getting enough exercise.

"The coaches I had in high school worked me really hard, I can tell you that," he said.

But both committees will have to meet together so that everyone who has worked on some form of this policy will be included, said board president Ron Heberle.

The new hybrid committee will meet in the coming weeks and return to the board with another proposal.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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