Possible changes for Pinellas Co. Elementary P.E. classes

Scheduling changes to help students and teachers

There could be changes on the way for many Pinellas County Elementary school students when it comes to their  physical education class schedule.

Teachers and Administrators alike all agree P.E. time for students is of course healthy, but they say in order to service the students and the teachers better, the district is offering an alternative.

It's called 'block scheduling.'  Instead of having P.E. class daily, the elementary students only have it three times a week.  There are 26 elementary schools out of the more than 70 schools in the county that have already implemented this block scheduling.  The district office tells ABC Action News it has been very successful.  The option is open to every school and their administrators decide if the change would benefit the kids at their school.
Thea Saccasyn, Principal at Ponce De Leon Elementary, says her school made the change more than a decade ago and for good reason.
"I would say the number one reason we do it is to capture teacher planning time so that teachers on the grade level have the mutual planning time," says Saccasyn.
Time Saccasyn says is imperative for teachers to come up with creative learning strategies for the students.
The state of Florida mandates each student gets 150 minutes of physical education a week.  Students on block scheduling still get that, just consolidated into three days.

Bill Lawrence, Assistance Superintendent in the district, agrees this recommended block scheduling is a win-win for everyone.  

"They can do remediation if they are behind in reading or math and they can also do enrichment," says Lawrence.  "They can advance their studies as well."
While Lawrence and Saccasyn both think the change is a plus, not everyone in the county see the idea as a home run.  Some P.E. teachers argue they don't see the students everyday and because of that teaching points can be easily forgotten.

The district assures us though, the days not spent outside are made up for by the added classroom prep for teachers as a result of the blocks.


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