Politics

May 15, 2013

Maine Senate considers exercise requirement for kids

The bill would require K-5 students to participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical activity at school.

The Associated Press

AUGUSTA — A bill intended to prevent obesity among Maine schoolchildren is up for debate in the state Senate.

The bill on Wednesday's agenda, L.D. 1164, would require students from kindergarten to grade five to participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of daily physical activity at school. Teachers could restrict a student's participation in physical activity if it presents a danger to the student or others.

The state Education Department took a neutral stand on the bill during a hearing last month.

The Maine School Nutrition Association supported it, saying the focus of obesity prevention so far has been food, and the bill starts to address the role of physical activity as well.

The Maine School Superintendents Association, speaking neither for nor against the bill, is concerned it puts another mandate on schools.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate sustained Gov. Paul LePage's veto of a bill that sought to change the school budget approval process for school units known as alternative organizational structures. The vote was 23-12, just shy of the number needed to override the governor's veto.

LePage said he vetoed the bill, L.D. 521, because it "moves away from the ballot box" and toward special meetings, giving the school board more power over money matters.

On Tuesday, the House sustained LePage's veto of another school-related bill, which sought to allow school districts to hire superintendents without regard for whether they live within the district they will head.

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