After hearing rumblings about a potential new course requirement that would eliminate a course slot currently used for electives at the middle school level, several Pflugerville ISD parents, students and employees asked the district to reconsider during a Dec. 7 board workshop.

What happened?

Students, their parents and teachers addressed the PfISD board of trustees, calling on the district to reject any proposals to require middle school students to take a health and career and technical education development course that would replace a course slot historically occupied by an elective.

Opponents of the measure, which was not presented to the board of trustees prior to the workshop or announced publicly by the district, said the course is not required by the state, and that the required Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills associated with health have been successfully taught in science classes up to this point.

PfISD Chief Communications Officer Tamra Spence told Community Impact that the district was exploring the possibility of the required eighth grade course. In the process of gathering input from department heads regarding the impact of such a course, information was shared with the community prematurely, she said.

"During a recent board meeting, some comments suggested a perceived lack of transparency on this matter," Spence said. "However, it's crucial to clarify that the district is in the early phases of an internal discussion with department and campus leaders. Teachers have not been formally informed or solicited for their opinions, as the discussion has not progressed to the point of seeking feedback, and a decision on the recommended course placement has not been finalized. The district is disappointed that the process of innovation and improvement was misunderstood, causing unnecessary distress among stakeholders."

What they're saying

PfISD parent Lindsay Ballard questioned the requirement of such a course, echoing other parents' sentiment that health is successfully covered in science courses and does not require a separate course. She said she is generally in support of CTE courses in the district but does not believe that this requirement would benefit middle school students as much as electives might.

“What are we taking away from our kids and what are they gaining from this?” Ballard said. "Our students should not have to give up classes they love.”

Similarly, Brian Edwards, an assistant band director at Cele Middle School who has served the district for 11 years, questioned whether the measure might benefit students.

“I don’t know where this comes from, but I don’t think it comes from serving students at its heart," Edwards said.

Spence said the internal proposal is part of the district's regular review of its curriculum and course offerings to ensure students are provided with tools to succeed.

"It's important to emphasize that no final decisions have been made on this issue," Spence said. "Our district leaders remain committed to thoroughly examining this option before reaching any conclusions."