Press Release

As Congress Threatens to Cut Phys. Ed Funding, Gillibrand Announces New Push to Secure Student Fitness Programs for Schools Across the Country

Sep 15, 2015

Johnson City, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced a new push to secure student fitness programs for schools across the country, amid Congressional efforts to cut physical education funding. Standing at The Johnson City Intermediate School with Superintendent Mary Kay Frys, Athletic Director Jeffrey Paske, Intermediate School Principal Margaret Kucko and Board of Education member and Johnson City parent Jeannette Farr, Gillibrand outlined her initiative – the Fitness Integrated into Teaching Kids Act, known as the FIT Kids Act. The legislation would provide grant funding to school districts and community organizations to improve physical education programming, and boost opportunities for physical activity for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.


In the United States, one-third of children and adolescents are overweight or obese, and is even higher in the Southern Tier at 36.5 percent. Physical activity can lower obesity risks and the diseases associated with it. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that school-age children complete at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. However, less than one-third of students across the country meet that standard. FIT Kids would allow school districts and community organizations to invest in quality physical education programs that provide regular physical activity and help students to develop the skills and behaviors for a healthy, active lifestyle.


“We have to make our children’s health a priority, and that means investing in physical education programs that will boost their fitness and help them thrive in class,” said Senator Gillibrand. “While some in Washington have put fitness funding on the chopping block, we’ll continue to fight to protect these programs so that our students learn good, healthy practices they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.”


“The reauthorization of the Physical Education Program (PEP) grant is a critical component to student academic success,” said Johnson City Central School District Superintendent Mary Kay Frys. “The relationship between physical activity and brain development is the subject of a substantial body of research. Students who move throughout their day can focus, problem-solve, and learn better than those who are sedentary.” 


“The PEP grant is a great initiative and has provided our students with more physical education class options,” said Jeffrey Paske, Johnson City Central School District Director of Health and Athletics. “The addition of more physical education opportunities has also lead to increased class sizes.”


Under Senator Gillibrand’s FIT Kids Act, school districts and community based organizations would be able to apply for funding for education and activity programs. The FIT Kids Act was incorporated in the larger Elementary and Secondary Education Act that passed the Senate earlier this year with broad bipartisan support. However, the House did not include FIT Kids in its version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The House and Senate will now negotiate a final version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to resolve any differences. Gillibrand will urge the committee negotiating the final bill to include the FIT Kids Act so that the legislation the President signs into law includes this grant program. The House and Senate will now negotiate a final version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to resolve any differences. 


In the Southern Tier, there are an estimated 123,000 school-aged children and an average of 36.5 percent or an estimated 44,000 are overweight or obese. However, in New York, just 26 percent of high school students regularly meet federal guidelines for 60 minutes of moderate to rigorous physical activity each day.



Est. # of School-Aged Children

% Overweight or Obese School-Aged Children

Est. # of Overweight or Obese School-Aged Children




























Gillibrand has incorporated student health measures into major legislation before Congress this year. As a part of the Child Nutrition Reauthorization, Gillibrand is fighting to protect fruit and vegetable serving standards to ensure school meals are nutritious. She has also proposed School Asthma Management Plan Act to ensure schools are equipped to respond to asthma attacks and are working to help prevent them from happening.