Tuesday, October 23 , 2018, 3:58 pm | Fair 73º

 
 
 
 

Santa Barbara School Board Approves New Criteria for Independent Study P.E. Courses

The new rules could impact students who participate in extracurricular activities in lieu of traditional physical education classes

[Editor’s Note: In an earlier story, Noozhawk reported that 55 junior high school students would no longer qualify for independent study physical education with the new restrictions. This is true for the recommendations given by Robin Sawaske, associate superintendent of education, but the final language adopted by the school board was slightly more accepting. The impact of the approved language was never discussed at Tuesday’s meeting.]

Fewer students could qualify for independent study physical education under new rules approved Tuesday night by the Santa Barbara school board.

The Santa Barbara School District allows certain secondary students to get their P.E. requirement from extracurricular sport activities. This year, 107 junior high students and 109 high school students opted out of traditional P.E. classes. It’s unclear how many students will be impacted by the altered rules next year, since applications are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

With the recommended criteria, 55 junior high students would no longer qualify for ISPE, but the board adopted language that is slightly more accepting.

Under the new rules, students must compete at a national or state level or be in advanced level courses if there is no ranking system for that activity, according to Robin Sawaske, associate superintendent of education.

They must participate in an activity for at least 15 hours every two weeks, downgraded from a recommendation of 20. Students can’t enroll in an extra elective to replace the regular physical education class, and students in 11th and 12th grades who have completed their four semesters of physical education credit for graduation may enroll in ISPE as an elective if they meet the criteria.

Since the only substantial change is the increase in required hours, Sawaske doesn’t anticipate many, if any, students getting disqualified by the board’s vote.

“I really don’t think we’re going to see a drop at all, in fact, with all this attention we could see even more people taking advantage of it.”

If students don’t spend 15 hours every two weeks on their activity, they shouldn’t be in ISPE anyway, she said, since they would have plenty of time to play outside of class.

Staff recommendations would have required students to be ranked at the 75th percentile or above in state or national competition, but the specific rank was eliminated during board discussions.

Allowing some team sports to qualify should help some student athletes stay in the ISPE program, school board member Ed Heron said. Heron believes there will be an impact, but the board’s more lenient changes haven’t upset many people he has talked to since the vote.

Parents flooded board members with objections to the original revisions at public meetings, saying the time and effort spent by students is more important than skill level and rankings.

“Please, let them be happy,” one mother said. “They’re not a number.”

Some team sports — including water polo, which 20 ISPE junior high school students play — wouldn’t have qualified under Sawaske’s recommended changes, which upset coaches and parents from the Santa Barbara Hockey Association.

Current ISPE students list their activities as dance, gymnastics, swimming, tennis, sailing, golf, aikido, fencing, skiing, baseball, basketball, horseback riding and surfing.

Sawaske said ISPE is meant to give “elite athletes” a way to fit their extracurricular sports, homework and everything else into their day, adding that it wasn’t meant to give students credit for pursuing sports merely because they were ones the school districts didn’t offer.

The push for stricter requirements came from junior high school administrators, who believe that students need to take general physical education classes for social reasons, the health component and variety of athletic activities offered.

Santa Barbara Dance Arts owner Steven Lovelace had concerns about ranking dancers and was one of many to say 20 hours per two weeks was an “excessive” requirement for student athletes.

Giselle Moseley, the mother of a ballet dancer, said the extra class time, if ISPE wasn’t an option, would cut back on time for dancing.

“There is value in P.E., but it’s not a fair trade in her eyes or mine,” she said.

The students who no longer qualify will be placed into regular P.E. classes.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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