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Center for Health, Fitness and Learning Information

The following is taken from the most recent issue of the district newsletter, Insight.

What is the Center for Health, Fitness and Learning and what will it cost?

The Board has proposed relocating and upgrading the High School’s Fitness Center to the area beneath the new gymnasium. Additional funding of $325,000 is in the current budget proposal, to be funded by a reserve fund. No additional taxes are requested to support the project.

What’s the rationale for improving the Center?

The current Fitness Center is used for physical education classes during the school day and for conditioning by athletic teams after school. It has been described as “marginally unsafe” because of the heavy equipment students use in crowded conditions, and some female students have called it “scary” because of its isolated location.

The Fitness Center is too small for physical education classes of 25-30 students (the typical size of a high school physical education class.) It is not large enough to accommodate some athletic teams or to accommodate more than one team at a time. Equipment is crowded together, and there is no space for activities that would invite more general use by students who aren’t on teams.

Funds to renovate the Fitness Center were originally proposed and approved in the 2008-9 budget. After the economic downturn of September of 2008, the Board deferred these plans and the funds were returned to the taxpayers the follow year. New funds were again approved for this purpose in the 2012-13 budget.

Why not just expand the Fitness Center in its current location?

The original plan called for occupying one of two unused spaces proximate to the existing space. There is no way to connect these spaces, so renovations would result in two or possibly three separate rooms, and arrangement that would be inefficient and that would increase the costs of supervision. Restrooms in the area are not functional, so they would also have to be gutted and repaired later, raising the cost of the project. Also, the current location is at the end of two dark, narrow hallways that female students have described as intimidating and as a reason they do not want to use the facility.

What is the rationale for the proposed relocation?

The idea of transferring the Fitness Center to the space under the new gym was actually proposed before the gym was built. At the time, the Board of Education was unable to spend additional money to excavate the area to a greater depth and finish the space for occupancy. The space was left unfinished.

The relocated Fitness Center has the advantages of being in close proximity to both the girls’ and boys’ locker rooms and existing lavatories, physical education offices, gyms, the trainer’s office, and the wrestling room. It has direct access to the outdoors. As a single large space, it will be much more efficient to supervise. It will be large enough to contain multiple classes or groups doing different activities at the same time. There will be space for warm up and stretching.

The relocation of the Fitness Center from the center of the High School to the south end also frees up valuable space proximate to the library and cafeteria, both of which are overcrowded. Going forward, this space could be renovated and turned into a valuable learning commons that includes room for library expansion and an area for eating, as well as more flexible space for classes and individual students to work in collaborative groups and to use technology.

The estimate for renovating space in the current location was $350,000, already appropriated in the 2012-13 budget. Because it is larger and involved wholly unfinished space, the new location requires investment of an estimated &975,000. By combining the $350,000 with another $300,000 in the approved 2012-13 budget for capital projects, and adding the rest from the reserve, the District can build a facility that safely meets existing program needs and that invites broad student participation that goes beyond today’s limited team and class use.

Is the new facility a frill or is it academically justifiable?

First, the plan to create a new, larger, and more welcoming facility addresses safety concerns. Second, it created the possibility of expanding student involvement in a gender-friendly and non-athlete friendly environment. Third, it will support and effort by the physical education department to shift away from a skill development curriculum to a curriculum that emphasizes lifelong wellness.

Classes will stress the inter-relatedness of many fields of human development: what it means to be physically fit, and how biology, physics, chemistry, nutrition, physiology, and kinesiology all affect the way we act and feel. Technology will help students understand how their own bodies are reacting to physical activity, body core development, stretching, nutrition, and so on.

More specifically, for example, the program will enable students to understand and address issues of stress through activities such as yoga, nutrition, and stress-reduction techniques. It could also employ exercise science, video, and movement analysis, and other biometrics to give students insight into ways they can maintain high levels of physical and mental performance.

These capacities are foundation stones on which to build an education for tomorrow.