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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
540-483-5113
Fax: 540-483-8013

Physical ed bills advancing through General Assembly

Monday, February 10, 2014

By STACEY HAIRSTON - Staff Writer

A bill that would allow high school students to satisfy physical fitness requirements by participating in Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) unanimously passed the House of Delegates last week and has been sent to the Virginia Senate for consideration.

"Quite a few other states already honor this program," said Lt. Col. Tracey Carter, instructor of Franklin County High School's ROTC program. "Locally, we have a lot of students who want to participate in JROTC but are unable to because their class schedules and gym requirements don't allow room for it."

JROTC offers physical training and teaches proper eating habits, Carter said.

"We take the same physical fitness tests as the P.E. classes," said Carter.

The JROTC program at the high school is currently maxed out as far as the number of students it can handle, as well as the needed space.

"Right now, we can only take 180 students per year," said Carter. "Hopefully in the future, if we can get an expansion to the high school facilities, we can expand our program so more students who want to participate in JROTC will have that chance."

Another bill dealing with physical fitness (SB155) passed the Senate this week by a 37 to 2 vote and has been sent to the House of Delegates for consideration.

SB155 would require at least 20 minutes of physical activity per day for all students in kindergarten through fifth grade and that physical activity be made available to all students in grades six through 12.

According to the bill, physical activity could include any combination of physical education classes, extracurricular athletics, recess or other programs deemed appropriate by the local school board.

"It's a great idea in theory," said Franklin County School Superintendent Mark Church. "But what are we going to cut to make that time (20 minutes per day)? We have a limited amount of time during the school day, and right now, that time is filled with academics."

"The bill is basically another unfunded mandate," Church added. "We do not have the space or personnel for addition physical activity. And the state is not going to provide any money to increase our number of P.E. teachers."

To follow these bills and others, visit virginiageneralassembly.gov.

 
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