Encinitas Union School District's yoga plan approved by school board

Posted at 6:06 PM, Jun 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-22 00:38:40-04

ENCINITAS, Calif. - Many parents are protesting the Encinitas Union School District's plan to pay for yoga with taxpayer money.

On Tuesday evening, the board approved a plan that would set aside $410,000 for the district's Health and Wellness Program. Initially, the board was considering spending more than $800,000; District Superintendent Dr. Timothy Baird called the revised plan a compromise, but many parents still say it's unacceptable.

Magan Hartman, whose daughter is going into second grade at Capri Elementary School, said she isn't against yoga, but she believes the district's spending priorities are wrong.

"I don't see why we can't take everything great from the program, empower the teachers to use it in the classrooms, still have it as part of our umbrella PE program that the district funds, rather than just funding a teeny tiny subset of PE and keep it, but just not with the price tag" said Hartman.

Hartman said she volunteers as an art teacher at her daughter's school because the district couldn't afford to provide one.

"I would love to see the yoga stay in the schools, but on a voluntary basis, just like I have to teach art in my daughter's class because we don't have an art teacher; I would love to see it integrated into the PE program," said Hartman.

The Sonima Foundation paid for the first three years of the program, but some parents have accused Baird of having a conflict of interest because he served on an advisory board for the foundation. They also say Baird's plan is supported by bogus research paid for by Sonima.

During a recent interview, the superintendent said there is no conflict of interest.

"There is no benefit that Sonima gets from this. Sonima gave us money. We were the beneficiary, not Sonima," said Baird.

Nearly 1,000 parents have signed a petition aimed at getting the money directed toward art and science.

"Accelerated math is no longer offered, lab science is not offered, reading specialists are funded by parents, music is funded by parents, art is taught by parents," said parent Leslie Schneider.

Baird said the students are getting a great education and yoga is just one small part. He's asking for $410,000 to pay the salaries of 15 instructors.

"If I did not see some really great things coming out of this program to support our kids, it's easy to let it go. There are a lot of things to spend money on. I think there are things happening here that are very powerful and it's worth fighting for," said Baird.

During a meeting earlier this month, at least one parent threatened trustees with a recall if they don't fire the superintendent.