Extra reading time pushes P.E. to the side in several Pasco County schools
Ten Pasco County elementary schools have come face to face with two competing legislative mandates for their students' time: One requires 150 minutes of weekly physical education, and the other an added hour of daily reading instruction.
They're asking the Pasco School Board to waive the P.E. to make room for the reading.
"For some schools (or grade levels), depending on their schedules, it is difficult to meet the required PE minutes in addition to the extra reading minutes," teaching and learning director Rayann Mitchell explained via email. "So the waiver gives them a little flexibility. For example, PE might be 30 minutes instead of 45."
The state law on physical education does offer some leeway for students in remedial courses. All the schools making this request appear on the state's Lowest 300 list for reading achievement on the Florida Standards Assessments. They are required to provide added daily reading lessons to all students who scored below Level 5 on that test.
Cox Elementary School principal Claudia Steinacker said her school has received a similar waiver each of the years it has appeared on the 300 list. Students continue to take P.E. classes twice a week, she said, but their other teacher-led physical activity is curtailed to make way for the reading.
That doesn't mean the children don't have time to move around, or that teachers don't incorporate breaks, movement and interaction into their lessons. It's just that the kids don't always get the full 150 minutes set forth in the law.
"Our parents support it," Steinacker said. "These families really want their children to get all the (reading) support they can. They know when they get home, they can give their kids the time they need to run around."
The other Pasco elementary schools seeking the waiver are Calusa, Centennial, Chasco, Gulf Trace, Lacoochee, Northwest, Pasco, Richey and Seven Springs. The item goes to the School Board on Tuesday.