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Lawmakers Back Requiring School Recess

Robin Sussingham

A House education panel Tuesday moved forward with a proposal that would require school districts to provide 100 minutes of recess each week in elementary schools.

The House K-12 Subcommittee unanimously approved a bill (HB 833), filed by Rep. Rene Plasencia, R-Orlando, and Rep. Bob Cortes, R-Altamonte Springs, that calls for schools to provide at least 20 minutes of free-play recess per day for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Dozens of parents traveled to Tallahassee to speak in favor of the measure. Marie-Claire Leman, who has three school-aged children, said many schools have eliminated recess, as it is not a required part of the day.

"Your responsibility as state legislators is to make sure that our school system is uniform, and that it isn't better for some kids and worse for others,'' Leman said. "When there is no state mandate for recess, it means that some kids in Florida have recess and others don't."

Subcommittee Chairwoman Janet Adkins, R-Fernandina Beach, said it is unfortunate legislation is needed to assure children have some play time.

"This should be handled at the local level, but when it's not handled at the local level and when we are presented data that indicates we have a problem, I think it is incumbent upon us to take on this issue," Adkins said.

The legislation still needs approval by two other House panels before it could go to the full House and has not been heard by any Senate committees.