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Mon, June 17

Board approves sex education program

The Chino Valley School Board approved, 4-1, a new sex education curriculum at its regular meeting June 11.

In January, the school board approved a committee to look into the school district's sex education curriculum and see if it needed to be updated.

The committee met three times during the past two months and looked through a variety of materials to see what would work best for Chino Valley, including the Center for Disease Control, media information which promotes sex in society, articles regarding the changes in sexual attitudes in children, statistics from government surveys and more.

In the end, the committee recommended the following curriculum:

• Preschool through sixth grade: The Great Body Shop. The school district applied this curriculum on a trial basis with second grade students this year. The committee recommended the program be applied to all elementary school students and sixth grade because it can be used within the existing classroom framework. It is abstinence-based and has a home component to involve parents. The material is updated regularly.

• Seventh and eighth grades: The TAPP (Teenage Pregnancy Prevention) curriculum. The program is abstinence-only and reviews sexually transmitted diseases. The program is free to the school district through a grant. One instructor, through an agreement with TAPP, teaches the program.

• Ninth grade: The committee recommended that the current textbook, Glencoe Health, continue to be used to provide sex education to the students. Chino Valley High School also uses Health Digest, a bi-monthly publication that deals with different issues. Sex education at the high school is taught through the health classes. The committee also recommended that high school staff review the TAPP curriculum and use it as supplemental material.

• The committee reported it could not find any curriculum that would be appropriate for the high school's upperclassmen.

Chino Valley High School Principal Dave Perey agreed that it is important to educate students about sex before they reach the high school level, but things need to be done to continue to ingrain those ideas into students' heads throughout high school.

Board Member Mary Hoffmann inquired whether or not parents had the option of pulling their students out of class during the sex education classes.

Minnich said the district would have to decide on this issue before the programs begin.

"What's being done now (to teach sex education)?" Hoffmann asked. "This is an abstinence-based program and permeates everything. What's being done now, and is it abstinence-based?"

Minnich said sex education is sporadic, with some teachers teaching it regularly and some teachers rarely discussing it.

Board chair Cheryl Main said she didn't think delaying the issue would be productive.

"We, as a board, said that this was at the top of our list of things that needed to get done," Main said. "I think we've kind of let this ebb and flow. I think it's important that we get on this again."

Minnich said having a solid sex education is important to answer the questions students have about sex.

"Kids start asking questions around second grade about sex. If you're not answering those questions, then they're going to find answers somewhere else," Minnich said.

Jeff Krantz, a member of the sex education committee, told the board that their recommended curriculum was the best possible.

"That's the best we had to work with, trust me," Krantz said. "You don't want to know some of the other stuff that was offered."

Del Rio Elementary School Principal Kent Evans expressed concern about how the Great Body Shop would be implemented and where funding would come from.

After hearing this, Board Member Robert Browning recommended that before the board could approve the curriculum, it should be "tweaked" to make it easier for teachers to use it in their classes.

Special education director Judy Paris, who chaired the sex education committee, was unavailable for the meeting to answer questions, but District Superintendent Ron Minnich suggested that she could answer questions at the school board's next regular meeting in July.

Browning noted that the middle school and high school seemed ready to go "full steam ahead," but the elementary schools needed to more time to prepare for the Great Body Shop.

Hoffmann saw Browning's point, but felt waiting to approve the elementary school program was not wise.

"It's with great trepidation that I make the following statement, but I think we should go full steam ahead on all levels," Hoffmann said. "I've read through the Great Body Shop, and I think it's a wonderful curriculum. I think we should adopt the whole thing — lock, stock and barrel."

The board voted 4-1 to approve the sex education committee's recommended curriculum. Browning cast a no vote.

Parents can view the sex education curriculum at the special education office, located in the west gym building at Chino Valley High School. The district recommends that parents call the office ahead of time, 636-0363, to assure that a person will be in the office to assist the parent, if necessary.

(Contact Lee Pulaski at lpulaski@prescottaz.com.)

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