ENCINITAS — Yoga will continue at the nine Encinitas Union School District campuses for at least one day per week, after the school board voted on a compromise measure to spend $416,000 on the district’s health and wellness program.
The board voted 4-1 on the budget, which also includes $384,000 to help pay for enrichment teachers at the schools, which currently are paid for through donations and fundraising by parent groups.
The district aimed to strike a compromise with parents after they loudly criticized an initial budget proposal to pay $800,000 to keep the district’s yoga program alive.
The Sonima Foundation had previously paid for the first four years of the district’s yoga program, awarding the district more than $4 million in grant funds over that time before telling district officials this year that it would no longer fund the program.
Under the school board’s budget plan, each school will have an enrichment teacher twice a week, and at least one of those days must be dedicated to the yoga program. The board’s vote will allow each school site to decide what the second enrichment program will be.
After nearly a month of criticism by a group of parents who criticized the district of misplacing its priorities in the budget discussion, the June 21 meeting took on a more civil tone, as parents and students on both sides stated their reasons for supporting or opposing the yoga program.
Unlike previous meetings, where the overwhelming number of speakers opposed the program, more parents spoke in favor of it during the comment period.
“There are lot of people out there that do believe in this budget, we’ve looked over it and because we believe it, we don’t feel they have to come to the meetings to protest or even to say thank you,” said Audra Moore, a parent from Carlsbad.
Critics argue that the district, with its original proposal, placed yoga over other pressing needs, such as enrichment teachers who teach other forms of physical education, science and math.
Some of those parents following the meeting said they were still not convinced that the district would follow through on its pledge.
“At this point, it is a lot of hearsay, and we have been disappointed with a lot of the information or lack thereof coming from the district, so we get the feeling that this was just for show,” said Nancy Willis, a parent at El Camino Creek Elementary School. “We would like to believe that this is a step in the right direction, but until we see the details and how it all plays out, we’re skeptical.”