The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education sought to revise a list of course options, including physical education, German and art, at Thursday night’s meeting.
To kick off the meeting, however, board members nominated Jamezetta Bedford as chairwoman and Mia Burroughs as vice-chairwoman of the board, both of whom were approved for the positions.
Board members passed a proposal requiring ninth grade students to complete a year-long health and physical education course, with the option of taking an honors physical education elective.
Though not all members were in favor of adding the optional course, the proposal was passed without objection.
“Many students will not take that elective,” Bedford said. “Very few will, but we can move forward and give it a go.”
Scarlett Steinert, physical education and athletics coordinator for the district, said the addition of the elective will open up options for students that might want to continue studying physical education beyond high school.
“What do you say to kids who want to pursue it as a career? Are you telling them it’s not important?” Steinert said.
“I want more P.E. requirements. I think it’s a critical part of students’ learning.”
Board members were also in favor of revising semester-long art classes to year-long courses.
Despite objections from two members, the board was in agreement of the revision due to student input.
“It’s been a scheduling issue because students who want to sample and try something else aren’t able to find certain art classes during their second semester,” said Melissa Vrooman, an art teacher at East Chapel Hill High School.
Theresa Grywalski, arts coordinator for the district, said students support the creation of year-long classes and emphasized the need for an understanding and appreciation of art.
“If you give a child a semester, they will learn the skills and technique, but without a year long experience they will never experience making art personally,” Grywalski said.
“They’ll see art as fluff, not as a way of presenting their world view.”
Though art and physical education classes were decisively changed, board members remain uncertain about the future of German courses.
Low class enrollment, low budget and disinterest from middle and high school students were considerable factors in the decision of whether to keep German in schools, official said.
“There seems to be some anomaly that is holding down enrollment,” board member Gregory McElveen said. “We need to focus on identifying why it is so low.”
Other members said they agreed that a certain class size must be established in German classes in order to continue them.
“Fifteen (students) is enough to invest in this program for a year or two to see if it builds,” school board member Mike Kelley said. “If this doesn’t rise to 20 or 30, we’ll have to reconsider.”
To conclude, members said they would agree to put German as an option in the school course catalogue and wait to see the results of enrollment.
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