The Cache County Board of Education's reaffirmation of physical education credit for high school marching band members violates the state's core curriculum requirements for graduation.
Keith Checketts, chairman of the State Board of Education, said Tuesday the district has been told more than once that it must abide by the state requirement.But in February, the Cache board agreed to continue a policy giving students in the marching band one-half PE credit for each year of participation.
Checketts said the state board had not decided on action but that an "extreme solution would be to withhold state funds from the district for non-compliance."
Scott Hess, PE curriculum specialist for the state office, said Utah high school graduation requirements clearly state that membership in pep club, cheerleading, songleading, ROTC, marching band, flag corps and rodeo "will not fulfill the `responsible healthy lifestyle movement and fitness' course requirements for graduation."
In August 1989, former Cache Superintendent Clark Puffer received a letter from the state expressing concern with the district's decision to allow PE credit for band members.
The letter said in part that the "marching band cannot justify credit for the `movement and fitness' requirement. Any student that concentrates on just one concept of the curriculum will not benefit from all it has to offer."
The letter also asked the Cache board to send proof that core requirements were being met.
In spite of that, Puffer sent a directive to teachers in January 1990 instructing them to give the one-half credit not only to marching band members but also to students participating in two musical groups at the district's two high schools.
Associate State Superintendent Bruce Griffin wrote to Puffer again in July 1991. Griffin said his staff members had visited classes in question and "found no attempt on the part of instructors to meet core objectives for physical education."
But Cache Board President Carol Funk said Tuesday that she believed it is up to the school board to decide whether or not such credit is given and that other districts had done the same.
Checketts and Hess, however, said they were unaware of any other district in the state offering PE credit for band.
Checketts said credit is given for more than just exercise, but to "develop lifetime health practices, and that does not happen in band."
Hess said if such variations in curriculum were allowed, "schools might start allowing a math credit for shop because math is used in shop procedures."
The effect on students who have earned PE credit in the band program was not immediately known, but the Cache school board was expected to discuss the issue at its meeting next Tuesday.