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Springfield District 186 Says "No" to P.E. Mandate

Updated: Friday, May 30 2014, 03:52 PM CDT
SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois is one of a few states to mandate physical education every day for students. Next year, Springfield District 186 will ignore this mandate. Right now, students don't get PE five days a week, only attending a handful of days.

"First grade through fifth grade will get PE twice a week for 30 minutes," said Rick Sanders, the Director of School Support. "Middle school is different because their schedule is different. Some kids will have PE every other day for the entire year, some will have it every day for a semester, some will have it every other day along with health, and in high school, we require two full semesters of PE."

District 186 can no longer apply for a waiver that allows them to avoid the five day a week PE requirement. The waiver, which expires after this year, was available for schools who had issues providing PE every day. Now, District 186 says they can't afford to follow the mandate because it would cost millions to upgrade facilities and hire teachers.

"At the elementary level we did a study it would cost $750,000 to $800,000 a year," Sanders said. "Some elementary would have some challenges with space, as well as at middle and high schools."

The State Board of Education says the district, worst case, could eventually not be eligible to receive state funding for not following the PE mandate, but that would be years away.

"We're not looking to punish schools," said Matt Vanover, spokesman for the State Board of Education. "We're looking to assist schools to be in compliance with the mandates we have."

Right now, the district says they are already maximizing PE time with the space and amount of teachers they have. But this issue isn't something that they just learned about. So why didn't they do something about it years ago?

"With the way the state has been funding our schools, it has been a challenge just to meet the needs we currently have," Sanders said.

Earlier this year, District 186 voted to cut more $5.5 million from its budget, to help fill a gap.Springfield District 186 Says "No" to P.E. Mandate

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