Physical education restored in Bremerton schools, at least for one year

Full-time physical education will be restored this year at the Bremerton School District, but may fall prey to budget cuts again the following year.

Despite $408,100 in cuts to the district’s budget for the 2010-2011 school year, physical education for elementary students will be increased from 30 to 60 minutes per week, back to the same amount of time before $2.5 million in budget cuts in 2009 reduced physical education, music and library programs.

The 2010-2011 budget was approved 3-0 by the Bremerton School Board August 5, with two members absent. Board members Dave Rubie, Scott Rahm and Baord President Dave Boynton voted for the $54.8 million budget. Members Vicki Collins and Carolynn Perkins were absent.

Facing between $300,000 and $700,000 in cuts this year, a district Budget Committee of community members and district employees recommended in May that the board fully restore physical education, music and library programs. Being able to afford only one of the programs, the district opted to bring back physical education, citing a focus on physical wellness and the benefits of exercise to children’s ability to learn.

“It was actually the most beneficial at this point,” said Wayne Lindberg, district director of Finance and Operations.

Most of the district’s reductions this year came through retirements, departmental cuts and reducing one bus route and one driver, Lindberg said.

When federal stimulus dollars and I-728 money from the state the district will face a $3.1 to 3.2 million shortfall for 2011-2012, Lindberg said, possibly putting physical education back on the chopping block.

“We’re going to be hitting programs,” Lindberg said.

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