After levy failure, high school students taking gym -- online

LAPWAI, Idaho (AP) — High school students in a north-central Idaho town will have to take gym classes through an online program this year after a school levy failed.

Lapwai School District Superintendent David Aiken told the Lewiston Tribune the district can't afford to hire a physical education teacher, so students will have to take PE through the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, a state-sponsored online school.

Students will have access to the school gym and equipment, "but the teacher is on the other side of the computer," Aiken said.

About 59 percent of voters opposed the district's $250,000 supplemental levy measure. Voters also rejected a proposed levy in May.

After the first levy was turned down, the district announced that several positions would be eliminated, including four and a half teaching positions, a mental health counselor, three para-educators, a bookkeeper, an attendance secretary, a custodian and a bus driver.

Students will also have to take most foreign language classes through the online academy, although the Nez Perce language will continue to be taught from preschool through 12th grade. Lapwai is on the Nez Perce reservation.

This will be the district's second year without a music program.

"We were going to put music back on the table for consideration," Aiken said. "Foreign language is just hard to fill, but even if there were qualified applicants in our area, with the levy failing we will have to rely on Nez Perce language and IDLA."

Aiken said he's grateful for the district's teachers, who he said will ensure students' educations are disrupted as little as possible by the cuts.

"These things take a toll on them too," he said.

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Information from: Lewiston Tribune