Physical education programs in Newton County schools will kick into a higher gear this school year through a federal grant that will help to fund new equipment and physical education supplies. The goal is to help students get fit.
At its July 16 meeting, the Board of Education unanimously approved Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey’s recommendation to purchase physical education equipment from U.S. Games of Dallas, Texas, and School Specialty of Mansfield, Ohio. The purchases approved amount to about $200,000. Michael Barr, Newton County School System director of support services, said the new equipment will be purchased utilizing competitively- bid and awarded contracts. The funding comes in the form of a Carol M. White Physical Education Grant. According to information from the U.S. Department of Education, The Carol M. White Physical Education Program provides grants to schools and community-based organizations to initiate, expand, or enhance physical education programs, including after-school programs, for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. NCSS grants coordinator Kathy Garber said the grant program’s goals are to fight childhood obesity and foster healthy eating habits and physical fitness among young people.
“Our physical education program has sort of been lacking in the United States,” Garber said. “We don’t have the money to put into physical education.
“So we applied for this grant. We’ve actually applied for it three years in a row and we finally got it. We’re the only school system in Georgia to get it, and one of nine school systems to get it since its inception 13 years ago, so we feel really lucky,” she said.
Garber explained that the grant the school system received was for $408,951, and she said $281,991was budgeted to purchase fitness equipment and physical education supplies, equipment and materials.
“(This is) to be used with the teachers in developing a stronger fitness program as opposed to just throwing out the ball and playing games,” Garber said.
PE teachers worked all year to prepare lists of items that their individual schools may need, Garber said.
“We took the total amount of money that we were awarded for equipment and supplies, and I said, ‘OK, each school gets X amount of money. Tell us what you need.’ … Some schools needed a climbing wall, and a lot of schools already had one. Some schools needed extra chin-up bars, or pull-up bars, or sit-and-reach boxes. Others had what they needed.”
Garber said purchases planned for all of the system’s schools include Wii gaming systems, laptop computers, projectors and workout CDs.
“It is good exercise, and you can have lots of controllers and lots of students participating,” Garber said. “It makes it lots of fun.”
School officials said no local funds would be used to make the new equipment purchases.