Columbus City Schools (CCS) Board of Education member Betty Drummond expressed clear frustration with the district’s ability to offer "non-core" course offerings, such as the arts and physical education, at the Jan. 22 board meeting.
"We have got to start paying attention to the health of our young people. We might be making them smarter but what good does it do if they’re not healthy?" said Drummond.
Drummond was responding to Superintendent Gene Harris’s Ends Policy Two Monitoring Report, which states that Columbus City Schools are allowing students to take their two semesters of physical education and one semester of health courses in the eighth grade. This means that CCS high school students do not have to take any other physical education requirements.
Drummond did acknowledge the board does not have a lot of options in this regard and have a lot of obligations for what is considered "core" courses, such as science, math and English, due to the No Child Left Behind Act and the Ohio Graduation Test (OGT).
Drummond feels the board should try a fresh approach to support non-core courses as well.
"My push as we move things forward on the levy is we have got to increase the school day, and I wish we can increase the school year as well," said Drummond.
Harris said the district is trying to address this and has an initiative with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation that attempts to encourage students to get more exercise by providing students’ families with the students Body Mass Index (BMI). For students that have been identified as having a problem in this area, CCS has hired a nurse to counsel parents on how to help their child, but Harris said the district has limited resources in this area.
"You were correct in your initial comments when you said we are under enormous pressure to try to figure out how to get it all in; and as I said before, one of the things I think we can show you is even when we do the Ohio core presentation, even with adding the period back in the day, it’s still tight," said Harris.
Harris suggested students could join extra-curricular activities to remain active, such as the marching band and the various athletic teams the school offers. Drummond said that is not enough.
"The focus in those activities are being the best, and the kid that needs it the most is used the least. The focus of a coach is to win," said Drummond.
Drummond proposed CCS offer an aerobics classes to attract more students to physical education. Harris said the problem is the lack of time to fit in all the course requirements, not a lack of interest.
"It’s not a matter of kids not taking the course; I believe we have physical education standards now, but it’s a matter of the time," said Harris.
Board President Dr. Terry Boyd smiled as he said, "Ms. Drummond definitely shot her commercial for what she thinks is the best way we can get into a levy discussion."
In other discussions about the Ends Two Monitoring report, Harris noted that some areas, such as arts at the elementary school, the district had to replace offering several short-term courses with long-term semester courses instead so that these programs do not have to be totally eliminated.
"So many districts have eliminated the arts. We’ve compacted but not eliminated them, so they can actually enjoy the arts more and longer," said Harris.
During the treasurer’s report, Dr. Michael Kinneer said he had projected the district would receive $336.8 million by this time in the fiscal year. The district has actually received $347.1 million.
"This is attributed to earnings on investments, which also includes payments the district received through Win-Win agreements. We received a lot of those revenues at the beginning part of the fiscal year, so I believe it’s still on track with the projections," said Kinneer.