Encinitas school district to require weekly yoga instruction

Paul Ecke Central Elementary School students attend two 40-minute yoga classes each week.
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Encinitas school board on Tuesday approved a plan to spend $416,000 in the next school year on a health and wellness program that must include at least one day of yoga instruction per week.

The plan — another attempt at compromise with parents unhappy that district money would be spent on yoga lessons — also sets aside $384,000 to help pay for enrichment teachers in other subjects now covered by parent fundraising and donations. The health and wellness teachers can incorporate other subjects besides yoga.

The Encinitas Union School District board voted 4 to 1 to approve the expenditure as part of its 2016-17 budget, with board member Gregg Sonken opposed.


Officials initially proposed spending $800,000 entirely on yoga instruction, the cornerstone of the district’s health and wellness program. The program was developed with funding from the Sonima Foundation, which paid $4 million to launch the yoga project before discontinuing the grant.

Supt. Tim Baird said the money would be “bridge funding” to continue Encinitas’ school yoga program until other grants could be secured.

That proposal infuriated parents, who said the money would be better spent on science, music or P.E. teachers.

About 75 parents and children protested the yoga program outside the school board offices Tuesday afternoon, calling for the district to drop all spending on the yoga program.

Some said after the meeting that the compromise measure still left them uneasy.

“Where is this $800,000 coming from?” asked parent Sian Welch. “Why is yoga an essential part of that?”

However, other parents spoke in support of yoga instruction.

“I think it’s incredibly unique, courageous, to have a program like this,” said Jacqueline Rossow, mother of a fourth-grader in the district. “I think it’s forward-thinking.”


Brennan writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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