Photo Courtesy of Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña made the announcement on Monday at PS 81 in Ridgewood.
By Forum Staff
City leaders this week unveiled the Universal Physical Education initiative to provide all schools with a designated PE space by 2021.
According to the de Blasio administration, the initiative will focus on around 200 schools, out of a total of 1,629, that do not currently have a gymnasium. The first phase will focus on 76 schools that do not have any designated PE space and will cost approximately $385 million over the next four years in Capital funding, including $105.5 million in new Capital funding as part of the recently-announced Adopted Budget for Fiscal Year 2018. As part of the budget agreement, the City will also invest an additional $1.8 million for some of the schools to lease nearby PE space.
“Every student needs quality physical education to stay healthy and remain focused during the school day. Not only are we committing to providing all students with PE space, but we are also strengthening physical education curricula with more trained PE instructors and new educational resources,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “This is part of equity and excellence in all our schools, and setting students up for success.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fariña announced Universal PE at PS 81 in Ridgewood, where in 2018, the school will break ground on a new, stand-alone gymnasium. Starting next school year, the school will also have a new, full-time certified PE instructor, according to the City. Additionally, starting this week, air conditioning installations will begin to address the nearly 80 percent of classrooms that lack units. This will be completed by the end of summer 2017 and all classes will have air conditioning for the 2017-18 school year.
“The lack of physical education classes in our schools has been a concern of mine for over 20 years,” de Blasio said. “I could not be more proud to be dedicating resources to ensure that every school will have an adequate PE space by 2021. Incorporating physical activity into the day isn’t just the healthy thing for our young people, it is the law and one that was ignored for far too long.”
According to de Blasio, Universal PE will build upon the administration’s PE Works initiative, an unprecedented, multi-year, $100 million investment launched in April 2016 that envisions PE as a foundational component of our schools, and seeks to revitalize this subject area for all students. PE Works began as a pilot in approximately 400 schools in the 2015-16 school year, and included jumpstart funding for 50 elementary schools without a certified PE teacher to hire and retain one.
And of the 76 schools included in the first phase of Universal PE, 16 are in Queens, 30 are in Brooklyn, 13 are in the Bronx, 8 are in Manhattan, and 8 are in Staten Island. While all schools are required to provide PE, not all schools have PE space. Universal PE, coupled with PE Works, will ensure that all students have access to a PE space, resources and instructors who can provide them with the rigorous PE instruction.