District to help kids get fit
State leaders want school districts to implement policies that will help combat childhood obesity.
The legislative report was given at a recent South-Western Board of Education meeting, by Cathy Johnson, board president.
Johnson explained the measure would require students to get 30 minutes of physical education per day. It would also mandate high school students complete one full credit of physical education, instead of the current scale of half of a credit.
“This is an unfunded mandate,” said Johnson, who noted she plans to testify against it.
Superintendent Bill Wise said this is an effort to cut down on childhood obesity and diabetes. He said it has bipartisan support in the Ohio Senate.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, 61 percent of children in the United States are overweight and 31 percent are at risk of becoming overweight. A recent study showed that nearly 19 percent of third grade students in Ohio were overweight and an additional 16 percent were at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that overweight or obese children run the risk of cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. They also are more likely to be obese as adults.
Johnson explained the state wants to test students’ body mass index (BMI) in grades 3, 5 and 9. She said she does not yet know if the testing would be performed by the physical education teacher or if the district would have to hire someone qualified for the testing.
Body mass index is a number calculated from the person’s height and weight. It is an indicator of body fat.
District leaders are concerned the measure will pass through the Senate and schools will be forced to find space and funding.
Wise explained that at many district schools, the cafeteria acts as the gymnasium. He said if physical education were required everyday, he would not know where the students would exercise.
The district received $296,000 from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) as part of the diesel school bus fund.
The OEPA awarded many districts throughout the state funds, but according to Tim Cox, transportation superintendent, South-Western received the most funds.
Cox said the grant money would be used to convert 35 buses to a diesel engine. He said diesel emissions are better for the environment.
The district will also be eligible for the OEPA grant in 2010. The OEPA is awarding the grants with federal stimulus dollars.
Recognizing board members
Rick Lewis, executive director with the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA), attended the meeting to recognize board member Greg McCarty.
McCarty ran for re-election in November, but did not get to keep his seat. He has served on the board for 31 years.
“Only 22 others in Ohio have put in that amount of time,” said Lewis.
The OSBA presented McCarty with a plaque.
“It has been a pleasure serving,” said McCarty. “I’ve had a good run.”
Board member Amy Baker also said goodbye. She thanked her supporters, supporters and family. Baker did not run for re-election. She has served on the board for four years.
Karen Dover and Jo Ellen Myers will take the two open seats.