BUFFALO, NY - Buffalo Public Schools will start to take new steps this year to boost physical education in city schools. Local parent groups have been vocal in recent years, saying kids don't get as much time in gym as they're supposed to.
"We talked to parents and they reported to us 'this is my kid's schedule, this is what they're getting in terms of physical education and the block of time and how often a week'," said Jessica Bauer Walker, Executive Director of the Community Health Worker Network.
She says she's heard from parents who say their kids are only getting one or two sessions of gym class per week in Buffalo schools. She says the same thing happened to her daughter a few years ago.
"I knew at that point, my child was in kindergarten, I knew she was only getting physical education once a week -- I knew that because I had a copy of her schedule," Bauer Walker said.
State regulations require kindergartners get phys ed on a daily basis. And there are regulations for every other grade level as well. Most children are supposed to get 120 minutes of gym or have at least three gym classes every six days.
Buffalo has admitted it's been out of compliance. But the district has taken steps to boost phys ed. Just last year, the district hired 30 new full-time gym teachers. The district says at this point, it can't say whether or not it's in compliance with the state, because student attendance in gym classes is still being calculated.
A two million dollar federal grant the district just received this week will help gym teachers take new training later this year.
"In being able to learn best practices around physical education," said Dr. Eric Rosser of Buffalo Public Schools.
Some of the money will also be used to buy new sports equipment.
And, some time this year or next, the district plans to offer optional after-school and weekend phys ed courses.
"The after-school programming which many of our parents and community members have asked for is something that will be a great benefit to our children," Rosser said.
Parent groups like what they hear.
"I think the district is moving on increasing physical activity, which is great," Bauer Walker said.
2 On Your Side called the state education department about whether the district is in compliance or not with regulations, but never got a call back. The grant the district is getting will allow the district three years from now, to build a ropes course that students could use -- something that you may see at an amusement park. But, it's unclear where the ropes course could be built.