OSWEGO, NY – The president of the Oswego Board of Education said he’d work with some concerned parents to ensure their children get the required amount of physical education
Cathy Axtell, the parent of a sixth grader at Minetto Elementary, said her son told her there was only one gym teacher at his school.
“I have a great concern based on state requirements and that school in particular,” she told the board at Tuesday’s meeting. “Last year, we were cut many positions in the building, my child has a larger class size and it limits a lot of things. The next thing is now there is less gym time for them. We keep cutting and for some reason, unless I am totally missing it, there’s an awful lot from our school.”
She asked the board why it couldn’t find money from some reserves to pay for another phys ed teacher for the school.
The lack of staffing hinders the school from doing some of the things it has done in the past, she added.
“These are traditions that the kids look forward to since the time their big brothers and sisters were students in that school,” she said. “Tradition is very important to these children along with their physical education.”
She said she didn’t understand how the board could make cuts that go against state requirements. Kindergarten through third grade need physical activity every day of the week, fourth through sixth are required three days of gym, she pointed out.
“If they are getting it every third day, how are they getting three gym classes in (in a week)? Recess does not count,” she said.
Heidi Samson, president of the Minetto Home and School Association, also has two children in the school.
According to the current schedule at the school, students will have gym one day, every other week, she said.
The state mandates students have at least 120 minutes of physical education per week, she continued.
“Since gym periods at our school are 40 minutes long, this current schedule will only get each student 40 minuets of phys ed one week and 80 the next,” she said. “I understand that these are lean times and money needs to be wisely spent as there is precious little to go around. But, can you honestly justify this decision of eliminating our second phys ed teacher’s position?”
She asked the board and administration to consider the long-range implication the lack of a second phys ed teacher will have on the students.
“I fully understand your frustration. I have a child in Minetto, too,” said Board President John Dunsmoor. “But also understand the other side of it. When you go from 24 sections down to 16 in special areas, you do have to be creative in order to continue to offer the same level of education for all the other classes.”
He said he has contacted Dean Goewey, the building principal, about the matter.
“We all need to work together to come up with solutions and solve the problem,” he added. “I think there might be a better creative way of (doing things).This is only discussion; I hope that both of you that spoke tonight will maybe sign up and sit down with Dean and all of us and come up with a solution.”
Kingsford is the only elementary school in the district that currently meets the state mandate on phys ed, the board president said.
“State requirements say you need to have 20 minutes of physical education every day K through three,” he said.
He cited a couple other schools, with larger enrollments, that incorporate physical education in the classroom. Teachers there educate the students about the importance of physical education, healthy diets and other things, he noted.
“There are a lot of ways of solving what’s now become an issue that I believe is definitely better than just adding a phys ed teacher to Minetto,” he said.
Dunsmoor gave Axtell his number and asked her to call him at her convenience. He said he would set up a meeting with Goewey and accompany her there.
“How does one school meet the requirements and the others do not? There are a lot of questions that need to be answered and not just with Dean. I don’t see where this is the school’s choice,” she said.