Feature Article - June 2009
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A Look at Trends in Schools and School Districts

When it comes to what schoolchildren can take advantage of in terms of sports, fitness and fun, the features included in school facilities have changed little from last year's report. More than three-quarters of school respondents said their facilities currently include: bleachers and seating (85.2 percent), locker rooms (82.2 percent), and indoor sport courts and gymnasia (78.5 percent). More than two-thirds include outdoor running tracks (73.2 percent), concession areas (71.8 percent), natural turf sports fields (71.8 percent) and classrooms or meeting rooms (67.1 percent). More than half also include outdoor sports courts (63.1 percent), fitness centers (61.7 percent) and playgrounds (51.7 percent).

Bleachers and seating, and synthetic turf sports fields top the list of planned additions to schools respondents' facilities over the next three years. New to the top 10 planned additions this year are climbing walls and park structures. The top features school respondents plan to add to their facilities over the next three years include:

  1. Bleachers and seating
  2. Synthetic turf sports fields
  3. Locker rooms
  4. Concession areas
  5. Fitness centers
  6. Playgrounds
  7. Outdoor running tracks
  8. Classrooms and meeting rooms
  9. Climbing walls
  10. Park structures such as shade structures and restroom buildings

Active Education

Just as recess has been cut in schools across the country, many schools also have been cutting back on time for physical education. But in what the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has hailed as good news, physical education recently got a boost.

For the first time in six years, SGMA reported, the Presidential budget included funding for the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, or PEP bill. Since 2001, PEP has enhanced K-12 physical education programs through more than $500 million in grants.

The PEP bill provides the only federal money to school districts and community-based organizations for physical education and innovative physical activity methods. President Obama's budget includes $78 million for PEP.

Through PEP, schools and other organizations can receive grants to purchase equipment and train instructors. It uses new technology, such as heart-rate monitors, pedometers and state-of-the-art fitness equipment and facilities to get kids active.