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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Lawmakers Consider Bill To Delay, Relax Physical Education Requirements

Chris Phan
Flickr -

Oregon schools might get a break when it comes to providing physical education classes. Ten years ago, state lawmakers approved a bill mandating how much PE time children in grades K-8 must get each week.

That requirement is scheduled to kick in this fall.

But the Oregon Department of Education said most districts aren't anywhere near meeting the standards. A measure now under consideration would give districts five more years to catch up.

Senate President Peter Courtney is a strong advocate for physical education in schools. He told the Senate Education Committee Tuesday that he's not convinced of the need to give districts more time.

"Ten years is more than long enough,” Courtney said. “School districts knew this was coming, and should have been working towards these goals."

But Courtney said he might end up supporting the bill, which would also allow districts to reduce physical education instruction during times of budget cuts.

That section of the bill was important to school district officials.

"We needed to create a safety valve that would allow school districts to fall below the minutes in recessionary times," said Morgan Allen, a lobbyist for the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators. "Let's say we had another Great Recession, and schools were facing significant cuts again, we would not be able to make any reductions to P.E., which would amplify the reductions in other areas."