Waverly Central School District officials have been working diligently to move closer to meet mandates in physical education set by the state's education department, the district's athletic director said Thursday.

Very few schools in the state have met the mandates, which require children from kindergarten through high school to have a set number of minutes of physical education each week, said athletic director Jeffrey Manwaring at a presentation to the board of education. The state requires that elementary children have a minimum of 120 minutes per week of PE instruction, he said.

Manwaring said he plans to reconfigure teacher schedules and take other creative measures to meet the mandates. The process will be gradual - the mandates, he said, are "nearly impossible to meet initially."

The amount of minutes teachers teach per week has increased, Manwaring said. Each teacher at the high school level is teaching six sections instead of the usual five, he said, and a half-time teacher was added to help reduce class sizes.

The number of physical education minutes taught in the 2012-13 school year so far has increased by 1,440 minutes per week, Manwaring said - over the 1,200 hours a full-time gym teacher would typically teach. Meanwhile, the addition of the half-time teacher reduced class sizes from 40 children to about 30.

Teachers have also introduced a greater selection of activities in the upper grade levels and are now teaching more adaptive physical education classes for students with special needs, Manwaring said.

More work needs to be done, Manwaring said, and he plans to reconfigure the schedule next year to increase the number of hours students receive gym classes without straining teachers. "Scheduling is the key," he said.

Board members expressed concern about students losing instruction time in other areas. Manwaring acknowledged that time elementary students spent in the computer lab and library had to be reconfigured this year to increase the physical education time, a move that was necessary to progress toward the state's PE requirements.

In order to meet the mandates while keeping the rest of instruction largely intact, the athletic department will have to "think a little differently and be creative," Manwaring said. "It's an ongoing process, and we're not done."

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: arenko@thedailyreview.com.