High school health requirement eliminated
The Janesville School Board unanimously agreed to stop requiring a ninth-grade health course Tuesday.
Board members seemed satisfied that drugs and alcohol, sex, nutrition and other topics could be "infused" into the coursework of science, English, physical education and other courses.
The board heard from constituents who were especially concerned that the anti-drug and anti-alcohol message would get lost, said board member Kristin Hesselbacher.
Ninth-grade health will remain in the course handbook as an elective.
The state requires only one health course in seventh through 12th grades. The Janesville School District now requires health in eighth and ninth grades, so the administration decided the ninth-grade course should not be required.
Students will be able to take different courses during the one-semester time slot that had been used for health, officials said. Students are selecting next year's courses this month.
Not only will the various health topics be covered in other classes, they will be covered in all the grades, not just ninth grade, said Kim Ehrhardt, director of instruction.
Ehrhardt said a committee of administrators and teachers agreed that:
-- Biology courses could include human growth and development topics, which include sex.
-- Social studies courses could include health-related current events.
-- Family and consumer education could include nutrition.
-- Phy ed could include related health topics.
-- English courses could include requirements that all students write about health topics.
-- Advisories, otherwise known as home rooms, could address drug and alcohol issues.
The challenge for principals will be to ensure that all the topics are covered all four years, Hesselbacher said, and especially that advisory time is well used to address substance abuse.
In other business
In other business Tuesday, the Janesville School Board unanimously:
-- Agreed to send a letter to state lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 257, which would give Janesville and a few other school districts a one-time boost in state aid because they are unable, due to union contracts, to achieve savings by requiring employees to make pension payments or increase payments for other benefits.
-- Approved eliminating the shared building coordinator at Harrison and Kennedy schools, allowing the building coordinators to run those schools, and in a related move, to hire an academic learning coach for those schools through the end of the school year. The moves are expected to result in little or no change in personnel costs.
-- Accepted the retirements, effective in June and July, of Cheri Appel, third-grade teacher at Jackson Elementary School, 17 years in the district; Janice Diers, business teacher at Craig High School, 27.5 years; Pamela Kiskunas, kindergarten teacher at Harrison Elementary School, 28 years; Mark Marsden, special education teacher at Craig, 13 years; Sylvia O'Connor, music teacher at Madison, Washington and Jackson elementary schools, 19 years; Janice Schenk, first-grade teacher at Van Buren Elementary School, 31 years; and Ed Stried, English teacher at Craig, 41 years.