Amphitheater Public Schools officials believe they are meeting a state-suggested requirement that students in grades K-5 have at least 30 minutes of structured recess each school day.
House Bill 2725 requires each school board in Arizona to discuss a recess requirement policy.
“We already have a policy that addresses that,” Todd Jaeger, associate to the superintendent, said during a school board study session in November.
Amphi implemented a student wellness policy and regulations in 2006. It addressed physical activities for students as well as guidelines for and education about nutrition.
“We think we provide sufficient time, and we don’t need a policy that mandates that,” Jaeger said.
The policy, if adopted, would require that recess consist of structured physical activity outside or inside the classroom. Physical education classes could be used to satisfy the recess requirement.
“The current instructional schedule and curriculum requirements under state education standards do not afford additional time within current school schedules for additional recess time,” Jaeger said in his agenda item. “The addition of recess time would, therefore, generally require extension of the school day.”
Unstructured recess time that follows lunch would not satisfy the 30-minute requirement, but district officials want to maintain that recess. According to documents shared with the board, “educationally, the administration believes that this traditional ‘free’ recess time is vital for socialization, relaxation and development of imagination.”
Superintendent Vicki Balentine said she has heard concerns from parents.
“One parent felt strongly about imposing this policy during a time when we are very stressed,” Balentine said.
Amphi schools do not offer structured recess as defined by the legislation.
With the exceptions of Coronado K-8 School, Prince, and Painted Sky elementary schools, all the elementary schools in the district have at least 10 minutes of unstructured recess each day for each grade level K-5. On average, Amphi schools have slightly less than 21 minutes of recess each day.
Coronado K-8 offers 15 minutes of recess for students between kindergarten and third grades. Painted Sky offers 15 minutes to its kindergartners and third graders. Prince offers 15- to 20-minute recesses to all grades except kindergarten.
Each school in the district offers at least 40 minutes of physical education each week, ranging from 40 minutes at Nash to 100 minutes a week for Coronado kindergarten and third-grade students.
Across the district, the schools average slightly more that 53 minutes of physical education each week for each grade level.