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NY schools can now apply for $125 million in federal grants for physical education

Tom Magnarelli
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) with Proctor High School students in Utica.

More than $1 billion in federal aid is now available to schools across the country for physical education. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) pushed to include the funding in the education law President Barack Obama recently signed.

Gillibrand met with students from Proctor High School in Utica, encouraging them to pick a sport to stay physically active during the winter months. She whispered to them that she recently had fun trying a new activity herself -- trapeze.

“It’s a huge concern for a mother like me," Gillibrand said. "I don’t want kids who just don’t get physical activity so they can’t grow and develop and get the most out of school.”

That does not have to happen now, Gillibrand said, thanks to $125 million in grants New York schools can apply for. The minimum grant is $10,000 but Gillibrand said even that amount can go a long way.

“It’s enough to have a part-time teacher, have extra hours for an existing teacher," Gillibrand said. "You can afford the personnel to run the club, run the program, run the team and whatever equipment you might need.”

Vincent Perrotta, a physical education teacher at Proctor, said these grants can allow schools K-12 to also buy equipment for kids who might not be in a sport, but still need the physically activity.

“We received climbing walls, pedometers, cross country skis, snow shoes,” Perrotta said.

Gillibrand said over the last ten years, as schools have had to tighten their budgets, physical education has often been some of the first programs cut. 

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.