PAINTED POST | The Corning-Painted Post School District is working toward a plan to bring its elementary schools into compliance with state physical education requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

The district recently received a report from the state Comptroller’s office after a random audit of C-PP and 10 other districts found the district’s elementary schools fell short of physical education standards, both in terms of time spent active and number of classes per week.

“While the audit was a surprise, the findings were not,” Superintendent Michael Ginalski told The Leader. “I do not believe the district has ever been compliant.”

The state requires students in Kindergarten through Grade 3 to get 120 minutes of week of activity, spread over five daily sessions.

In C-PP schools, students in K-2 are getting two 30-minute sessions per week, and third-graders are getting two 40-minute sessions per week.

For Grades 4 and 5, the state requires 120 minutes spread out over three sessions per week.

Current students are getting two 40-minute sessions per week.

Ginalski noted that only one of the 11 districts audited was found to be totally in line with state standards.

“These requirements went into effect in 1982,” Ginalski said. “I’ve worked in the district since 1999 and we definitely have not been compliant since that time. In fact, most districts cannot meet the requirements.”

He said there are a number of challenges that make the state requirements hard to meet.

“Since these requirements were enacted in 1982, the state and federal government have added layers of curriculum, program and testing requirements which eat up much of the school day,” Ginalski said.

He added that they can’t solve the problem by simply spending more money on physical education.

“If we were to try to buy our way out of this, we’d need to add an additional 6-8 (physical education) teachers which would cost an additional $300,000-$400,000 annually,” Ginalski said.

“(And) from an elementary facilities perspective, because we are a northern state, from November until March students are inside. We have the original gymnasiums which came with the original construction in the late 1950s, so we have a limited number of teaching stations to work with students daily.”

Ginalski said he agrees with the state requirement in principle, but it will not be easy to meet.

“I think elementary age students need physical activity -- and brain research has proven that physical activity increases learning and time on task -- so this will benefit students and supports the district mission,” he said. “However, there will be a cost in instructional time because the time has to come from somewhere in the existing school day.”

Ginalski said the next step is to begin planning for what can be done to meet the standards in a reasonable time frame.

“We are going to put together a committee to look at different ways to meet the requirements with the goal of (getting) to the 100 percent level by September 2019,” he said. “ I hope to have a mid-year report to the Board in January with a final recommendation coming sometime in the spring.”

He said the district will be keeping the requirements in mind for longer-term planning while doing what’s necessary to meet them in the short term.

“Obviously creating more functional physical education space at our elementary schools will need to be a priority going forward,” Ginalski said. “(But) we are not building more gymnasium space in the next year so we will have to make it work with what we have.”