District 204 opposes newly proposed physical education bill


Aimee Leal

Students file into the gym within the first minutes of school for PE classes.

The Illinois General Assembly and Illinois Senate have created the SCH-CD Physical Education Bill HB-2234 that has been proposed to all school districts across the state, as of April 12, 2019. This bill requires that the number of minutes for physical education be increased to 225 minutes per week for high school students. District 204 has opposed the bill.

For elementary schools, the number of minutes of physical education would be increased to 155 minutes per week, which would make it mandatory for students to exercise 5 days a week. They currently have physical education classes 3 times a week.

District 204 currently makes physical education mandatory for all high school students in order to graduate. As of now, physical education takes up one class period a day, and does not spill over into other class periods. With the new bill, physical education would still fill one class period, but it will be mandatory that students take physical education the whole year. Health would now become an additional elective class for sophomore students at Metea, since it is a requirement for them to take a health class. They would still be required to take it by state law.  

There are currently not enough teachers for all of the students in physical education or health classes. More physical education teachers would need to be hired to compensate more classes being added for physical education.

Metea Valley PE Department Chair, Craig Tomczak did not responds to requests for comment. Several Metea Valley teachers also declined to comment.

Due to the number of students at the school, many class periods are overcrowded. One of the main focuses of the school board was to use the money that the state is giving them to help hire faculty that would help make classes less crowded. District 204 is not funded enough to make this change and implement the new bill, which would need more physical education teachers.

“We are only funded at approximately 80% of what we should be. It would take another 15 or 20 years to get it to 100%. With this new bill that was proposed, there was no additional funding associated with it,” President of the District 204 Board of Education, Michael Raczak said.

Because of the lack of funding, it makes it difficult for District 204 to accept the bill. The existing issue with a lack of teachers would be worsened with more necessary physical education time.

Also, with the new bill, elective classes that fall under the physical education category, such as drivers’ education, would no longer be counted as part of the requirement. Instead, students would lose that elective opportunity.

It is necessary, however, for students to be active at school and to participate in physical education. “As a board of education, we are aware that we need to address these needs,” Raczak said. Metea Valley High School is a P.E. Blue Ribbon school. The school board members recognize the importance of a strong physical education program.

If this bill would come into force, the money the school would normally use from funding from the state to reduce class size and add additional mental health staff would be used to hire additional physical education teachers.

District 204 will continue to reject the bill until further changes are made to it that would benefit the high, middle, and elementary schools more.