Encinitas Union School District board members will vote on Tuesday night on the district’s $54 million budget — including a proposal to use $800,000 in general fund money to continue the district’s yoga program.
The proposal has come under fire from parents over what they called the district’s lack of transparency, after the board tentatively approved the plan in April with little fanfare or public notice or input. One group of parents has collected more than 750 signatures on a petition that demands the district not spend taxpayer dollars on the yoga program.
The program up until this year had been funded for the past four years through a grant from the Sonima Foundation. Sonima officials informed the school this year that it would no longer be providing the funding.
At its peak, the grant between the district and foundation allowed the district to hire as many 18 full-time instructors. The District has 15 teachers (11 full-time and four part-time), which also help deliver the district’s World Ready Traits and Skills Program.
District Superintendent Tim Baird said the $800,000 would serve as a bridge fund to give the district time to figure out ways to either redesign the program, reduce cost or find new funding. Without the April board action, the district would have had to let the 15 wellness teachers go.
“The District has invested a great deal of time and money in the Health and Wellness Program, and believes that it is worth spending a year to analyze how to maintain the program moving forward,” Baird wrote in a question-and-answer document on the district website.
Parents, however, have argued that the money could be better spent on other priorities, such as on additional teachers to reduce class size or pay for science, art, music, P.E. teachers, which currently parents have to raise money to have at the schools.
“We spend time and money to raise funds for the EEF to pay for consultants to teach subjects including science, music, PE, and technology,” wrote Heidi Loren, a parent at Olivenhain Pioneer Elementary School. “Our 6th graders did not have math books (since the schools have transitioned to Common Core) because we were told the school did not have money to pay for them.”
The board meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the district offices, 101 South Rancho Santa Fe Road.