Local News

State School Board Decides To Endorse More Exercise For Students

Posted January 9, 2003 5:46 a.m. EST

— Responding to an increasing number of overweight and out of shape students, the State Board of Education approved a plan Thursday that recommends up to almost four hours of exercise weekly.

The program makes physical education a requirement for all students in pre-kindergarten through middle school.

The board stopped short of requiring a minimum amount of exercise. It recommended regular physical activity at least every other day and suggested 2-1/2 hours for elementary school students and 3 hours and 45 minutes for middle schoolers.

That averages to 30 minutes a day at elementary school, 45 minutes a day at middle school.

Proponents, including state treasurer and board member Richard Moore, said the mandated PE time is needed to combat growing obesity rates and health problems among students.

"The context is one we cannot forget," Moore said. "This is a special concern" because healthy children learn better and live more productive lives.

Board chairman Phil Kirk and Jane Norwood have said mandating a certain number of PE minutes wrongly takes away decision-making power from local school districts. Kirk said mandating a specific amount of PE time would take away time from core academic subjects, such as reading, writing and math.

Board member Wayne McDevitt said Wednesday that because student health is such a critical issue, the state should assert some control.

"Certain issues rise to the level where we should lead," he said.

A North Carolina Association of Educators survey found that a slim majority of teachers polled favor the PE mandates.

The survey, conducted after the PE proposals were introduced at the board's December meeting, found that 76 teachers polled supported minimum weekly PE time, and 64 opposed the idea.

The policy, which goes into affect for the 2006-2007 school year, also requires each school district to create a school health advisory council to oversee the requirement.