Howard County Board of Education Considers New Wellness Policy
Board Meeting – Rough Notes taken by Heather Iliff, March 12, 2013
To contact Heather with questions or revisions to these notes, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the policy, visit: http://www.boarddocs.com/mabe/hcpssmd/Board.nsf/public#
To submit comments on the policy, email: Policy@hcpss.org
Katrina Burton and Carol Hahn, Co-Chairs of the HCPSS Wellness Policy Committee presented the superintendent’s recommendations on the Wellness Policy. The policy included some of the recommendations of the Wellness Policy Committee, including having healthy choices prominently displayed in the cafeteria, promoting movement in the classroom to promote learning, providing breakfast for all children in all schools, and prohibiting the withholding of recess for disciplinary reasons. They also reported that several “controversial topics” were not included in the superintendent’s recommendation either because of fiscal constraints; other school system priorities including the academic instructional program.
• Physical activity plans for high school students.
• Transportation for intramural sports.
• Increased time for physical education and other specifics regarding equipment, facilities and student-teacher ratio.
• Minimum times for lunch and recess.
The Co-chairs noted that best practice recommendations related to recess will be incorporated into guidelines to be issued by the Superintendent annually to all principles. The superintendent also delayed the development of HCPSS Nutritional Guidelines by Nutrition Subcommittee of the Wellness Policy Committee until the summer after the Nutritional Specialist is hired.
Comments from Board Members
Dr. Janet Siddiqui, Board Member
I don’t want to rush this process. I don’t want to approve the policy without the nutritional guidelines in place. We don’t define competitive foods. We have some guidelines from IOM, but we need to look more closely at what is being offered as competitive foods in the lunchroom, and what is being offered in athletic activities.
We are in disalignment with the County that has banned sugary drinks, but not in the school system. We have restricted during school hours. I would like to see that addressed for students and staff.
Glad to see there is a component now in the wellness policy for staff. Circles around the wellness program, but is that enough? Do we need to do more about the disalignment between our students and our staff.
Food and Nutrition Service does well. Ms. Klatko does an excellent job. We need to do more than the IOM. I am concerned about processed food. There are a lot of studies about high fructose corn syrup and its relation to obesity. We are eliminating that in sugary beverages, but also need to look at that in terms of food guidelines.
Would like to see more in terms of professional development for team wellness people at the school.
Access to water – students should have the ability to carry water bottles at all times, and that should be in the policy.
Physical education – recommendations to increase the number of hours? We need to look at the system as a whole. We can increase activity at the elementary school level. At the elementary level, we can do more in the classroom. At the high school level, I would like to see more physical education.
We need to look at physical education separately due to the fiscal and time constraints as a separate task force.
We should not rush on this. We received today from 10 members of the committee concerns about the policy, including Healthy Howard, Howard County Nutrition and Physical Activity Coalition, School Health Council, Howard County Association of Student Councils, Howard County Health Department, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Howard County Nutrition Coalition, University of Maryland, and Howard County Health Department. The fact that they are saying something means something. We need to go slow with this and look at each category individually and take a deeper look at this.
I appreciate Dr. Foose, where you say we only have 6.5 hours per day, but that is a lot of time in terms of how much sleep the student is supposed to be getting. They spend a lot of time here. We owe it to our children as a county, as a state and as a nation. Making sure our students are physically fit, addressing the obesity issue as a community. All the research shows that if they are physically, mentally, socially, and fed the right foods, then they will excel in their academics.
Brian Meshkin, Vice Chairman
I agree with Dr. Siddiqui, but I don’t want to slow down the process. I suggest we schedule a work session. The perfect can be the enemy of the good. Don’t want to wait until the following school year to implement these changes.
Grateful we are in there that we have a policy framework for breakfast for all of our students. We were rated by Maryland Hunger Solutions as being 24th in the state. We need to change that to be #1 in the state.
Glad to see no loss of recess as a punishment. I find it infuriating and it happens far too often.
The language is a little shaky regarding recess. I have concerns about physical activity and physical education components. That area of the policy needs to be beefed up more.
Recess – daily component for all elementary school students – should also be there for middle school. I find it abhorrent that if my child is lucky he gets 5 minutes of recess. I think we should shave 5 minutes off every class to have an hour for lunch & recess. Don’t like nebulous nature of lunch and recess in middle school.
I have a concern about physical activity not used as a punishment – coaches often tell people to run laps or do push-ups. For coaches that can be effective.
There are other issues with regards to things that weren’t mentioned in the revision that came through from [The Superintendent’s] Cabinet that where there in the committee. This is not the appropriate venue. We didn’t get a minority report other than the statement from 10 members. Work session may be an appropriate place for that, or during public hearing.
I want to see the breakfast program and changes to recess implemented, and I don’t want that to get delayed.
We want more feedback on why committee recommendations were not included. If there were votes on the committee, I would like that information.
Ann De Lacy, Board Member
I agree with Dr. Siddiqui – the nutrition aspect and the physical aspect should be separated. Better to go slow than to go fast. Whatever we do it should be done right.
Horizon did a great presentation for us. Did you ask them about funding after school busses? Principal was very concerned about losing the grant from Horizon to fund the homework club bus.
Ensuring after-school participation by as many children as possible is important but with limited transportation and access – we need to look at the limitations and financial constraints.
Ms. Burton: We do have some transportation grants for after-school activities at some of our schools. Not all schools. It would cost $1m to provide buses for all schools. Was not something we could commit to in a policy in these tough economic times. Doesn’t mean we aren’t pursing opportunities and other resource.
Ann De Lacy (continued)
Family and Consumer Science – be sure to include.
We should separate food from physical education. Do we have the people and resources in place to implement the requirements on physical education and health? Board member De Lacy asked staff to come up to the microphone.
Linda Rangos provided information on the structure of the health and physical education departments. Jackie French responded that they do the best with the resources that they have.
Cole Rosenberg, Student Board Member
Glad to see fresh produce in the policy. Glad to see breakfast and different ways to offer breakfast.
What is the timeline is for creating and implementing the nutrition guidelines? That is an important part of that policy.
Ms. Burton – we need to hire new nutritional specialist, and hope hire over the summer. We are working on the job description. We will reconvene the nutritional subcommittee. Would love to have the guidelines in place in time for the new school year to start or shortly thereafter.
Brian Meshkin, Vice Chairman
We need to post the nutritional guidelines in the cafeteria.
I appreciate Ms. Burton. Thank Ray Brown our former COO who has retired and who made wellness a huge priority. It is a culmination of what he did.
Frank Aquino, Chairman
My children have received Howard County health education. They have done well and they are very sensitive to what they eat. I see the biggest problem is in the guidelines. How are we really going to get there so we have board approval and community consensus? We have a minority opinion by 10 of those people. I see this as a major issue. There’s got to be a set of guidelines out there that we can follow. This group wants this, this group wants that – how are we going to make that decision? Commonly accepted general guidelines we can build off of? I see a lot of work still yet to be done.
I don’t see hiring the dietitian as being the end of it. The guidelines are going to come to the board. Dr. Siddiki is an expert in this area. Many other board members have been involved in the wellness issue over the years. Want to have as much buy-in and approval from as many of the members of the committee as possible.
Katrina Burton: The Committee was focused more on school activities, after-school sales, and sports. The snacks and dessert program at lunch had some discussion about higher standards than IOM standards than we are currently following. We did have a nutritionist on the Committee, Becky Ramsey from University of Maryland, and she volunteered for the Nutrition Guidelines Subcommittee.
Dr. Janet Siddiqui, Board Member
I don’t think there is a single guideline out there that will direct us. We need to consider the diversity of our community – religious, ethnic, dietary.
Carol Hahn: We did have a committee member from MSDE. He did comment on this policy that it’s a great move forward. Its hard to move it forward and we are going in the right direction and doing good work.
The Board Chairman thanked everyone for coming to the meeting and staying late. The public hearing on the policy is scheduled for April 11, 2013.