Physical education may no longer be mandatory for junior high students in Laramie County School District 1. Tonight, the LCSD #1 Board will meet to discuss a proposal that could make physical education classes an elective instead of a requirement at Carey, Johnson, and McCormick Junior High Schools.

Jesse Blunn is one of several local teachers speaking out against the plan.

"As a P.E. teacher, one of the big benefits for children to participate in P.E. is the Personal Social standard. Kids work in teams, kids accept one another’s differences, kids communicate, kids must adhere to specific rules which as you can read in the article pertains to civic duty as an adult," Blunn posted on Facebook. "With the reduction of required physical activity, the imbalance between screen time and movement will tip the scales even more than they already are."

LCSD #1 Director of Instruction Dr. Steve Newton defended the proposal in a statement.

"Test scores have been historically low in seventh and eighth grade. We believe that giving more time in the core area will help improve these scores and better prepare kids for high school," Newton said. "Our curriculum coordinators and staff will decide how to allocate elective time including which classes are year-long courses and which might be included in the elective wheel of choices. There is nothing in the proposed schedule that would preclude a student from taking a full year of P.E."

Many school districts around the country have scaled back or removed physical education programs altogether in recent years. Proponents of physical education in schools cite research suggesting that P.E. classes help improve academic success and test scores. They also argue that students who have P.E. classes are healthier and more active outside of school.

Blunn is encouraging parents and community members to voice their opinions when the LCSD #1 Board of Trustees meets tonight from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Storey Gym on 2811 House Avenue.