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Committee to take another crack at wellness policy

By Heather Graves

GREEN BAY – Proposed changes to the district’s wellness policy presented to the Green Bay school board Monday, Feb. 3, are headed back to committee for further discussion.

This after additional suggestions were brought forward to strengthen the language around taking away recess as a punishment.

The wellness committee was established last summer following a guiding change document on the development of a recess policy.

The committee is comprised of parents, students, teachers, administration, the school board, nurses, food service department, equity department, student services department, teaching and learning department, facilities department and community partners.

The committee recommended the board approve the addition of language which states:

“Administrators and school staff shall seek alternatives to recess restriction and employ such options in a manner consistent with student needs.”

Following a short presentation from district administration regarding the committee’s recommendations, Trustee Kristina Shelton presented ideas she wanted the board to discuss as possible additions to the policy.

Those ideas included stronger language in regards to not taking away recess as a punishment, a more detailed definition of what recess is and specific minutes for recess included in the policy.

“The intention of this is not to circumvent the committee at all, it was just to provide a discussion piece to see if there are additional things the board wanted to consider,” Shelton said.

Some board members were reluctant to change any of the policy, saying the work of the committee should be valued.

“There are lots of people on this committee, they’ve done a lot of work and I wouldn’t want them to feel that their work was circumvented by the board,” said Laura McCoy, board clerk. “I would like the committee to have another look at this. Last Thursday, I sat in a room full of principals, and one of the things I got from that is they want us to trust them and their judgement.”

Board Vice President Andrew Becker said it wasn’t an issue about not trusting the committee, but rather following the process through.

“I’m glad we are doing more with advisory committees, and having them going deeper into things and that’s important,” Becker said. “But if this is going to be a trust issue, if the board is taking almost everything untouched coming out of that committee, and has a couple of amendments and people are upset about it – that is not how this is supposed to work. There can be differences in philosophy, where the board might want to take one step further forward or one step less forward on a particular issue and that’s okay. That’s how this is supposed to work.”

Becker said he didn’t think the language was strong enough, saying that while the language of the policy did change, practice really wouldn’t.

“The suggestions (from Shelton), which I am largely in agreement with, are additions to a small part of the overall report and a small portion of the overall policy,” he said. “If we have policy language that is negated in the rules by saying shall seek, or shall try, we haven’t written policy anymore.”

The board agreed to send the policy back to the wellness committee to further discuss the suggestions.

It is unclear when the issue will be back to the full board for more discussion and possible approval.

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