Nearly 15 percent of northern Illinois school districts still have not complied with the state mandate for public school physical education class five days a week.
Thirty public school districts in the WNIJ listening area still do not have physical education classes five days a week. They all received waivers which have now expired – some as long ago as 2002.
WNIJ News obtained the ISBE information through a Freedom-of-Information Act request and from the lllinois Report Card. Illinois State Board of Education officials say those districts have not submitted new waivers to be exempt from the rule.
One of those districts is Geneva School District 304. Its PE waiver to exempt juniors and seniors participating in extracurricular dance, poms and cheer from gym class expired in 2014. Superintendent Kent Mutchler says the district still honors those exemptions for busy students, despite the waiver’s expiration.
“If they can get a waiver for that daily phys-ed requirement, that gives them more time and certainly more energy to spend on their studies,” Mutchler said.
According to state law, school districts do not have to obtain waivers to exempt students in marching band from gym class. But waivers are required to cover students in other after-school sports and activities.
ISBE officials say the major reasons why school districts may not comply with the daily PE requirement could be because of a lack of staff or resources. They add that the state budget issue hasn’t helped, either.
The consequence for a district not following the state PE regulation may be ineligibility for state funding. But ISBE staff member Jeff Aranowski says that rarely happens.
“We have staff here that can at least help with scheduling … or think of different creative solutions for districts to provide the best possible program that they can,” Aranowski said.
Other public school districts among the thirty not in compliance with the state daily PE requirement are Morris District 54, Freeport District 145 and Rockford District 205. Lake and Cook counties were not included in this survey.