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Considering its options

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 2:40 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, June 21, 2013 4:24 p.m. CST

MANLIUS — A public hearing has been set by the Bureau Valley School Board as part of protocol to apply for a waiver that, if approved by the state, would allow a reduction in the number of required days physical education is taught at elementary schools in the district.

The state requires physical education to be taught five days a week in elementary schools, but a waiver gives the option for districts to decrease that number to three days a week.

Reducing the number of required days would benefit Bureau Valley in the sense that it would give more flexibility in how professional staff is used.

Superintendent Dennis Thompson urged he wasn’t a fan of the option, but said if in the future the district comes to a point where it doesn’t have the financial resources to provide all the necessary programs, the waiver would allow a change that would help cut costs.

“There may be a day when you have to, and if you have to, you’ve got to have permission to do so, and it requires you to through a process that takes a bit of time,” he said, referring to the reasoning behind why the district is seeking out a waiver right now when it has no intention of make any changes to the physical education program.

Thompson’s examples of how the waiver would allow the district to cut costs were the ability to reduce staff or assign qualified professional staff to perform more than one duty around the district.

Superintendent James Whitmore said if the application is approved, it won’t be applicable until January. The option to change the elementary physical education program will then be available for the board to make in 2014 and half of 2015. If the board hasn’t used the option at the end of the two-year cycle but feels it wants to hang on to the option, the district will then be able to re-apply for another two-year cycle.

Whitmore explained the current administration is providing this option in case Bureau Valley’s finances take a turn for the worse in the next three or four years, and the board is left looking for more ways to cut the budget.

At Monday’s school board meeting, Thompson emphasized the decision may be a financial savings the district never looks at or approves, but having the waiver in place to allow the reduction sometime down the road will give the board another cost saving option.

“If I were ever in a situation where I thought I needed to use it, then I would like to be prepared to do so without anymore confusion, delay or whatever,” he said. “I think what (the board) wants is the best (it) can afford and the best things (it) can provide for the district with the resources (it) has.”

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