State school board drops some core requirements, allows districts to retain them

State school board drops some core requirements, allows districts to retain them (Photo: Dan Rascon / KUTV)

(KUTV) Art, physical education and health classes soon will no longer be required as core classes for middle school students, according to the Utah State Board of Education.

The new ruling, voted on by the 15-member board, will go into effect on Oct. 9. But there is a catch, the state board is putting the power to require these classes into the hands of the school districts, so changes are not expected anytime soon.

Linda Hansen is one of the state board members who voted in favor of that change which would make those education class staples electives.

"We are not getting rid of it, we are just allowing the district and the charters to make that decision. They are close to the kids and know what's best to the students," Hansen said.

She said that at first she voted against the proposal but once she visited with her five school districts and ten charter schools, it changed her mind. "They were really positive about it they thought it would be great they like having the flexibility in being able to choose more for their own students."

Shannon Sype is a parent who likes the idea of the decision to be left up to the individual school districts.

"It's wonderful to have the arts" in school. She also acknowledged that some of her kids, "enjoy those things but I've had a couple that don't so I think the requirement is a little off base."

On the other hand, South Jordan Middle School band Director Jerusha Johnson is having a tough time hearing the board of education's decision to turn art, PE., and Health Classes into electives and no longer make them core requirements for middle school students. She feels, "very firmly that it's important to give kids exposure to as many different kinds of arts and technology and they need to have a well rounded education."

Johnson is happy to hear that Jordan School District is one of those districts that will not be making changes.

"It's still scary because I think some schools districts don't value the arts as much as other school districts do," Johnson said.

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