State Board to Continue Changes to P.E., BMI Rules

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Anti-obsesity programs for youngsters in Arkansas schools are going on the chopping block.  The state Education Board, following a legislative directive, is poised to weaken the programs that were in place during the administration of Governor Mike Huckabee, who set an example by losing 105 pounds.

Changes to the body-mass index tracking championed by Huckabee come after the Legislature earlier this year approved an overhaul of the law.

On Monday, the Board will hear public comments on the revisions before voting on them later  this summer.  The policy is to go into effect before the start of the 2007-2008 school year.

The BMI reports were enacted through a 2003 law aimed at addressing obesity among the state's schoolchildren.

But during this year's legislative session, some lawmakers tried first to repeal the required BMI tracking, and eventually ended up with a compromise bill that weakens the law and makes it easier for students to opt out.

The proposed revisions would implement the BMI screening at kindergarten, and then in even-numbered grades with high school juniors and seniors being exempt.  The revisions also reduce the amount of physical education time for most students.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)