Parents, PE teachers ask board for more attention to physical education |

Parents, PE teachers ask board for more attention to physical education

by Merrie Leininger

About 40 parents and physical education teachers came to the Douglas County School Board meeting Tuesday night at Carson Valley Middle School to support those who spoke up for more attention on the physical education of the district’s students.

Parents and teachers complained the kindergarten PE class has been decreased from 30 minutes to 15 minutes at some schools and four regular teachers have been assigned PE classes at Carson Valley Middle School.

The PE teachers say this does not benefit the teachers or the students and puts the students at risk.

A letter written by Carson Valley Middle School PE teacher Jamie Kaminski was given to the board.

“We can send one class to the weight room, where teachers have voiced feeling ‘uncomfortable, not knowledgeable enough to prevent a possible injury or accident.’ Do we need to wait for a student to get hurt before the situation will demand a change?” she wrote.

n Not the full story. Principal Roger Gerson told the R-C Thursday by phone that he met with the four 7th grade core teachers who are teaching PE this year and they felt the PE teachers misrepresented how they felt about teaching the subject to their 112 students.

He said this scheduling option was one of many offered to them last spring and this core decided they would teach PE because of the benefits of the schedule.

The teachers have their students for all the periods except for the students’ elective class.

He said the schedule also frees up the teachers to change their schedule and to have a free period in the day, something they never had before.

He said the core teachers have one of the regular PE teachers as an advisor and they were offered the chance to attend a week-long PE course over the summer, but none of them could do it.

“Maybe they weren’t as comfortable at first. But the meeting was inaccurate – they do teach skills, they don’t feel it is just a glorified recess. They are following the same curriculum as the other PE teachers,” Gerson said.

He said two of the four core teachers are certified as kindergarten through 8th grade, which includes PE, and the other two are certified 7th through 12th grade, which are not. He said the law states they are still allowed to teach a course they are not certified to teach as long as it isn’t more than half their schedule.

Gerson said the teachers are also not afraid to supervise students in the weight room, and that two of them even lift weights themselves and are familiar with the equipment.

n Concerned teachers. A C.C. Meneley Elementary School physical eduation teacher Ellen Lucas said it is a problem with classroom teachers in charge of PE classes because they admittedly do not know what to do and are uncomfortable with the added responsibly, especially when faced with preparing for the competency requirements.

Adaptive physical education teacher Paulette Irving said she teaches 110 students in all 12 schools.

“It has become physically impossible. I spend 10 hours a week driving; just trying to get to the kids. I have no prep time. Every three months when blue track is off I do paperwork. There are 15 students in the district I haven’t even gotten to yet this year,” Irving said.

C.C. Meneley teacher Marc Angell said his 5th-grade students cannot afford any more cutbacks in physical education.

“It is really discouraging when I take my kids out. Some of them literally cannot walk fast for 10 minutes,” he said.

The board was not willing to promise anything to the teachers, though.

“I can’t tell you an awful lot,” Randy Wallstrum said. “We’ve all taken notes on this. Your concerns are our concerns. It’s a balancing act how much more we can fit in a day.”

Superintendent Pendery Clark said even though the district might be looking at a lean year, there are no plans to cut PE classes.

n Even Start. Janice Florey gave a report about the Even Start program, which serves Hispanic families in the district.

The program has three aspects: adult education, parenting classes and preschool classes for 3-5 year-olds.

This year the district added a portable classroom at C.C. Meneley that Western Nevada Community College helps staff.

“Families come to school together,” Florey said. “We’re hoping to see a major increase in skills with 20 hours of instruction now instead of the three hours per month they were getting previously. We still go to their home on a monthly basis though.”

She said the district has served about 100 families in the six years and this year two of their previous students were accepted into the gifted and talented program at their elementary school.

n Aurora. Roy Casey gave a report about his trip to Aurora, Colo., where the school district is implementing a similar competency-based program.

He said he learned from them the need to let parents know what is going on and lay out a plan how to work with students who don’t meet the requirements in time to graduate with their class.

Administrators from Aurora will be visiting Douglas County in January, in time to attend parent meetings about the graduation requirements.

n Interviews. The school board will meet next Wednesday, Dec. 16, in the library of Carson Valley Middle School to interview applicants for two seats on the board.

The board will meet at 3 p.m. in order to discuss revising the format of the board meetings.

At 4 p.m., three people will be interviewed by the board for the Area 4 seat, vacated last month by Diane McCoy.

Ronald Telles of Gardnerville dropped out of the process last week for personal reasons.

Board President Randy Wallstrum will sit on the board through those interviews, then excuse himself for the Area 7 interviews.

Area 7 is Wallstrum’s seat and he is one of the four people interviewing for the position at 5 p.m.

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