Baldwin-Whitehall board considers credit increase for phys-ed classes

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, 9:34 p.m.

Physical-education credits could increase for students at Baldwin High School during the next school year.

Andrea Huffman, director of curriculum, and Jonathan Peebles, Baldwin High School vice principal, spoke to the Baldwin-Whitehall School Board earlier this month about increasing the credits per semester for physical education from one quarter to one half. The credit increase would enable students to complete the physical-education graduation requirement as early as his or her sophomore year.

“We want to create as much flexibility in a schedule as possible,” Huffman said.

School board members are scheduled to vote on the credit increase in December.

Huffman said some students aren't able to take certain classes because they have to fit in the physical-education requirement. In other cases, students choose to take a class instead of taking a lunch period.

Students who would like to take physical education past the graduation requirement would do so as an elective course, Huffman said.

“I think it gives our students options,” said Denise Sedlacek, assistant superintendent. “Physical-education classes are a scheduling nightmare.”

Physical-education classes at Baldwin have as many as 40 or 50 students in them because of scheduling issues, Huffman said. Increasing the credit requirement would reduce the number of students per class.

The initiative is not intended to reduce physical-education staff, she said.

School board member Larry Pantuso said he would like to see how many students would benefit from increasing physical education credits, how many students choose to take classes instead of a lunch and the body-mass-index numbers at the high school before voting.

“I think we need everything together to make a decision,” Pantuso said.

Also, allowing students to complete physical-education requirements as sophomores might not be beneficial to their health, Pantuso said.

“That may be the only physical activity those children get,” Pantuso said.

Timothy Laughlin, a physical education teacher at Baldwin High School, said he and the other physical education teachers were approached for feedback by the administration. They share some of Pantuso's worries about increasing the credit amount.

“We do have a lot of those concerns,” Laughlin said.

The following items were voted on at the Nov. 14 Baldwin-Whitehall School Board business meeting:

• Fee increases for certain groups using Baldwin-Whitehall facilities will be postponed.

The school board, in a 5-3 vote, tabled a motion to revise the charges for groups to use district facilities. School board members Kevin Fischer, Diana Kazour and John Schmotzer dissented.

School board member Nancy Crowder said she didn't like the category in which parent-teacher groups fit into for the fee revisions. Those groups are an extension of the classroom, she said.

“This is a slap in the face for parent involvement,” Crowder said. “I won't support (it) this way.”

• The board approved the retirement of Lorraine Murray, a bus attendant for more than 18 years, and John Odoski, a bus driver for more than 11 years.

• The school board unanimously approved accepting the 2011-12 audit report by Cottrill, Arbutina & Associates P.C., which gave the district an unqualified opinion, the highest it could receive.

• The administration recognized Daniel Constantini, Mark Salera and Laney Barone for receiving Steel Center Vocational Technical School extra-effort awards for carpentry, food services and health assistance, respectively.

• The administration recognized Michaela Woods, Emilee Spozarski, Stephan Kisty, Jacob Kemerer, Sam Barbano and Samantha Jurczyk for leading the J.E. Harrison Middle School's Sumdog mathematics competition team to a second place title in the nation.

Harrison's team took second place out of 432 schools nationwide. Forty-three Harrison students answered 32,594 mathematical questions correctly during a seven-day period.

The competition included 27,815 other students. For at least 1,000 questions answered, Woods, an eighth-grader, placed 18th overall, with 98.5 percent accuracy; Spozarski, a seventh-grader, placed 33rd overall, with 97.2 percent accuracy; and Kisty, an eighth-grader, placed 44th, with 96.2 percent accuracy. Kemerer, Barbano and Jurczyk each scored above 95 percent per 1,000 questions answered.

Laura Van Wert is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5814 or at

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