SUMMIT, NJ - A pilot program, under which students are allowed to waive participation in physical education classes in order to spend more time studying or for other academic activities, may be expanded next year, the chairman of the board’s education committee said Thursday at the board’s workshop session.
According to education committee chairman Richard Hanley, the current policy allows all sophomore, junior and senior students at Summit High School to opt our of physical education classes on a designated day each week. Those participating on varsity athletic teams may opt out of four physical education classes at any day of their choosing during the season in which they participate in a varsity sport.
Hanley said the education committee could recommend expansion of the program to allow up to five opt-out days during a season.
However, the education committee chairman said, any consideration of expansion of the program will be contingent on whether the high school has additional space for more study halls for those not taking physical education and how the change in the athletic opt-out policy would be affected if the high school changes to block scheduling during the next school year.
Block scheduling allows for the lengthening of some periods and reconfiguration of other portions of the school day. The high school had originally planned to initiate it for this school year, but it was delayed because teaching staff members of the Summit Education Association would face possible scheduling changes which may be a subject of negotiations in the current contract talks with the school board.
In addition to the questions about space and scheduling, Hanley said that Superintendent of Schools Nathan Parker and Athletic Director Robert Lockhart are planning to distribute feedback forms to parents at the end of this school year to get their input on the pilot program.
He added that a recent survey showed that 50 percent of those responding used the physical education exemption once a week, 78 to 90 percent use the period during which they are excused from gym for study hall or to do homework, 94 percent felt the exemption had little or no effect on their grades in physical education and 24 percent or less felt students should not be skipping physical education classes and about the same amount felt the opt-privilege resulted in students getting less exercise.
At Thursday’s session board members also debated whether students engaged in other physical activities in school, such as dance, or who worked in physical occupations after school, such as stocking store shelves, should also be given the choice to opt-out of physical education classes.
In another sports-related matter, the board voted unanimously to appoint Lenape Valley boys basketball coach Daniel Healey to the head boys basketball coach at Summit High School at a salary of $10,331, effective this Friday.
Healey graduated from St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, where he also served as an assistant boys basketball coach, and from Loyola University. Prior to going to Lenape Valley he was a coach at Hudson Catholic High School, also in Jersey City.
He succeeds one-year Summit coach Jim Davidson, who was named to replace David White in the position after White was not offered a new contract two seasons ago.
In other news at Thursday’s board workshop session, board president Celia Colbert announced the school body had agreed with the Summit Principals Association on a three-year contract that will extend until July 1, 2017.
Cobert added details of the contract would be released after it is reviewed by the parties.
She also said a mediator is expected to be named shortly in the school body’s deadlocked contract talks with the Summit Education Association. The SEA contract expires on August 31 of this year.
Also at the workshop session, board members discussed goals for the education body for the upcoming year.
Discussions focused on whether implementation of the PARCC testing in city schools this coming school year would provide a sufficient assessment of student achievement, the role of the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, American College Test and advanced placement course tests in measuring achievement and the most effective ways of measuring student progress in the elementary grades.
The education committee also is seeking to refine goals dealing with the guidance department and it role in student college and job placement and it also will be looking for input on the future direction of the guidance department when a new guidance director is named to succeed the retiring John Schnedeker.
Additionally, the board announced its regular meeting on June 19 in the high school media center will begin at 6:30 pm to allow time for awards to retiring staff members.
Also, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction Julie Glazer announced that on Tuesday, June 17, at 7 pm parents will be able to review materials for the Envision Math program for kindergarten through fifth grades. Materials will be available in Spanish.