ST. JOHN | School districts face increasingly stringent mandates from the Indiana Department of Education about how much uninterrupted instructional time elementary students must spend in reading and math.
In response, school corporations are adjusting schedules for the 2012-13 academic year. For the Lake Central School Corp., that means changing when elementary students have recess next year.
Instead of two shorter recess periods, students in the district’s four elementary schools will have a combined 55-minute lunch and recess period in the middle of the day, said Mark Kellogg, director of primary instruction.
“The state says elementary students must have 1 1/2 hours of uninterrupted instruction in reading and an hour in math,” he said. “We are restructuring the school calendar to accommodate this.”
However, during a phone interview Monday, Erica Horan, of Schererville, said that information wasn’t shared with parents in a timely fashion.
Last week, Horan, the mother of a second-grader at Schererville’s Homan Elementary School, began distributing fliers at two Lake Central elementary schools announcing that the corporation was eliminating recess. She was asked to leave school grounds because she didn’t have permission to distribute the literature.
“I was not aware I couldn’t be on school property,” she said.
Kellogg said the fliers looked as though the information came from the Lake Central School Corp.
“It didn’t,” Kellogg said. “We are not taking away recess. There is still recess in K-4 buildings.”
The fliers’ distribution resulted in a recorded voice mail to parents Friday from Homan Elementary Principal Kathi Tucker saying how the recess would be structured and why.
Horan said it’s a matter of semantics.
“Morning or afternoon recess is being canceled,” she said, and that concerns her as a mother.
“My 7-year-old daughter said that during morning recess, ‘I get my wiggles out and then I can think better,'” Horan said.
Kellogg said the students don’t sit in the classroom for extended periods of time.
“There is a lot of teacher engagement during the instructional period,” he said. “The students have 45-minute specials in art, music, library and technology every day.”
However, schools have had to change with state and national standards, Kellogg said.
During Monday’s Lake Central School Board meeting, Horan read a statement in support of recess.
“For a change this important, the public deserves to fully understand the challenges, alternatives, trade-offs and be given the opportunity to provide input and ideas,” she told the board. “It seems to be the case that this matter has already been decided. If so, we should then ensure a plan is in place to guarantee timely breaks from the classroom.”