Area schools respond to recess legislation
When you're in the first grade, few things in life are more enjoyable than spending some time outside for recess. The students burn off energy, and in the process, they're learning valuable life lessons.

"And when they're out on the playground, they are interacting with each other," said Patrick Smith, principal of Basswood Elementary in Maple Grove. "They're learning how to deal with conflict. They're making friends. They're socializing. There's so many pieces that they're learning how to be a citizen."

Smith says that at Basswood, students have recess for a total of 30 minutes a day, but that's not the case for other districts.

"It's a variety," Smith said. "You'll see that some districts will have 15-20 minutes of recess time. I was talking to another principal from another district and they have 35 minutes for recess and lunch combined."

It's a stat that caught the attention of DFL Representative Jim Davnie of Minneapolis.

"Common sense tells us, little kids need to get their wiggles out," Davnie said.

To help ensure that students in kindergarten through fifth grade get in their recess time, he's introduced a bill that would require school districts to have a policy on the total number of minutes of recess each day.

"What's in that policy, and all of that, that's decided at the local level," Davnie said. "We just say: you need to have a policy. You need to be thinking about kids and recess."

At Basswood, staff members are certainly in favor of recess, but not so much on the idea of the state mandating it.

"I think, maybe, recommendations might be a better way to approach it, saying 'this is what we recommend' and then giving some control locally as a school board to decide what we're able to do," Smith said.

In response to the proposed legislation, a spokesperson for the Osseo School District said, "Requiring districts to adopt a policy specifying the number of minutes for K-5 recess is an example of a state mandate that would reduce local control. The bill may also be based on an inaccurate assumption that recess is the only way schools provide daily physical activity for students, (Park Brook, for example does a significant amount of physical activity in addition)." 

Delane Cleveland

Feb. 8, 2017


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