May 15. 2013 11:39PM

School sports may get credit boost in Manchester

New Hampshire Union Leader

MANCHESTER — High school athletes would be able to earn a full credit for playing school sports under a policy approved by school board members this week.

The board's Coordination Committee voted unanimously on Tuesday to support the policy, which would permit students who participate on a sports team for at least two seasons to receive one credit over the course of their time in high school. The credit would replace the required two half credits in physical education classes.

"This would allow the students to fill the credit with other academic priorities," said Ward 10 school board members John Avard, who proposed the change.

Currently, student athletes can receive a half credit for participating on a sports team for at least two seasons.

"I don't mean to belittle the physical education classes. For students outside the athletic sports teams, they're very necessary to promote good health," Avard said. But Avard said members of sports teams already learn many of the things taught in physical education classes. "These coaches, they do a wonderful job teaching about a proper diet, lifestyle, stretching, proper hydration. They're all over kids about how much sleep they get," he said.

At Tuesday's meeting, both Mayor Ted Gatsas and Superintendent Thomas Brennan expressed strong support for the proposal. "Someone taking a sport needs to take 'Walking to be Fit' to get the other half credit?" Gatsas asked with incredulity.

Brennan said he expected there might some resistance to the policy. "That doesn't mean we shouldn't do what's right for students. Any opportunity that allows kids to learn beyond the classroom... is a good thing," he said.

Ward 9 board member Art Beaudry also supported the change, but questioned whether all sports were deserving of one full credit. "I understand football and basketball, but what about golf?" he asked. Avard said on Wednesday, "You try walking 18 holes carrying a bag and tell me that's not physical."

The policy will next be reviewed by the Curriculum and Instruction Committee.