The New York City Local

Controller study: City schools get failing grades on giving kids proper gym classes

Local New York

NY Daily News

Ben Chapman and Rachel Monahan, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITERS

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An NYC audit found that even though 40 percent of city students are overweight, most schools don't offer P.E. (Debbie …

City elementary schools earned a big, fat "F" for failing to provide gym classes, a city audit charged Tuesday.

Controller John Liu said that although about 40% of city kids are obese or overweight, schools aren't providing the required physical education classes.

"The DOE has failed to give students the legally required amount of physical education," Liu said. "The DOE is failing gym."

None of the 31 elementary schools the controller reviewed offered gym classes as often as required by state rules - daily for kindergarten through third grade; three times a week for older kids.

Just two schools provided the full two hours a week required for kindergarten through fifth grade, the auditors found.

PS 163 in the Bronx was the worst school the auditors visited - with no gym or gym teachers. Eight trailers housing classrooms also crowded out space for recreation in the schoolyard.

"I wish we had cheerleading or gym or any kind of sport. We don't have anything," said Bryana Brown, 10, a fifth-grader at Public School 163.

"I like playing sports, but there is no space."

A 2009 city Health Department report on child obesity recommended ensuring schools followed the state requirements for physical education classes.

Education Department spokeswoman Barbara Morgan defended the city's efforts on combating childhood obesity.

"We know we have more work to do in this area and the controller's recommendations coincide with our ongoing efforts to improve the quality of physical education instruction," she said.

The audit also found principals were largely unaware of the state requirements and that overcrowded buildings and lack of funding for gym teachers helped create the problem.

rmonahan@nydailynews.com

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