The controversy over the reporting of the Body Mass Index in the middle schools is likely to erupt at the Evanston/Skokie District 65 School Board meeting Monday night as part of the discussion over FitnessGram.
The issue caused quite a stir on the board last year, when a number of parents protested the practice of releasing the figure, which quantifies the relationship between a student’s height and weight, providing an indication of how much body fat a person has.
Too much body fat is regarded as a problem, according to medical experts, because it can lead to illnesses and other health problems.
At the time of the discussion, the board’s leadership, President Tracy Quattrocki and Vice President Richard Rykhus, were defeated on a motion to suspend the testing this year in order to give the board and administration time to address the concerns of a number of parents who expressed a belief that release of the individual data might embarrass some students who were overweight.
BMI testing is part of a wider plan, under a nationwide program called FitnessGram, designed to encourage students to exercise more and eat better in order to counter an epidemic of obesity.
Defeat of the motion to suspend testing was advocated strongly by then-Superintendent Hardy Murphy, who contended that BMI testing was an important component of the FitnessGram program.
Last August, Murphy resigned as District 65 superintendent and will, therefore, not be a factor in Monday night’s discussion of FitnessGram.
After defeat of the motion to suspend testing this year, the board voted 6-to-1 to report the results of BMI testing to parents only by email or by regular mail, in hopes that students will be less likely to comment on the BMI scores to their fellow students.