Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida will again consider mandatory recess

Kid's Community College students make their way onto a basketball court for recess May 11, 2016, in Riverview. Just over 300 students, grades K-5 attend the charter school. The school recently applied to add middle school grades. (CHRIS URSO   |   Times)

Kid's Community College students make their way onto a basketball court for recess May 11, 2016, in Riverview. Just over 300 students, grades K-5 attend the charter school. The school recently applied to add middle school grades. (CHRIS URSO | Times)

TALLAHASSEE — A popular, parent-backed proposal to require daily recess at all of Florida's public elementary schools will be back before the Florida Legislature next spring.

Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, filed a bill Tuesday that mirrors one that died in the spring — despite fervent support — when then-education policy chairman John Legg, R-Trinity, refused to hear it in committee.

The measure, SB 78 for the 2017 session, mandates local school boards offer 20 minutes per day of "supervised, safe and unstructured free-play recess" for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Orlando Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, who led the effort last year, will again champion it in the House. He said he's in the process of drafting his bill for 2017 and plans to file it soon.

Last session's proposal was initiated by passionate parents from all across Florida — primarily self-described "recess moms" — who pleaded and lobbied for lawmakers' support in the 2016 session.

Some school districts in Florida already offer forms of recess, but some parents argue district policies don't go far enough or aren't always followed. They want a uniform standard statewide, citing the physical and mental benefits children gain from having time to simply play with other kids on the playground, which also affords them a break from increasingly rigorous study in the classroom.

A bill mandating daily recess overwhelmingly passed the House last spring, but it stalled in the Senate when then-Sen. Legg wouldn't take it up. He said repeatedly it was a "local issue" that county school boards, not the Legislature, should decide.

Other senators disagreed with Legg's firm position to not even consider the bill, but late-session efforts by one senator to bypass him weren't successful. Legg decided not to seek re-election after Senate districts were redrawn.

Locally, school boards might have a challenge in finding time for recess in an already jam-packed school day.

"I think one of the things that this will allow us to do is to have a conversation as to, what does this average typical day of a student look like? Maybe there are some state-mandated issues that we need to re-evaluate," Flores said. "I do think there's time for this and I think when you speak anecdotally with teachers, they'll tell you there is time for this. The proof is in the fact that several schools and districts already do it."

She added: "Ideally you wouldn't need a piece of legislation for this but we're obviously at a point where school districts say they don't have time or are using not having time as a crutch. We need to make this work."

In the House, the only two to oppose the recess bill last session are now in key positions of power, where they can determine the fate of the measure next spring: Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, and Miami Republican Rep. Michael Bileca, who will be chairman of the Education Committee.

But Plasencia said he's "not concerned" and doesn't foresee any problems.

"We had advocates reach out to the speaker over the summer; I don't want to speak for him, but he seemed very favorable to it," Plasencia said.

Contact Kristen M. Clark at kclark@miamiherald.com. Follow @ByKristenMClark.

Florida will again consider mandatory recess 11/30/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 2:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Disabled truck blocks westbound lanes on Courtney Campbell Causeway

    Accidents

    Westbound lanes are blocked on the Courtney Campbell Causeway after a truck became disabled on the roadway, according to broadcast reports,

  2. Man faces DUI manslaughter charge in fatal Largo scooter crash

    Crime

    A Clearwater man faces a charge DUI manslaughter after deputies say he fatally struck a scooter rider in Largo on Sunday night.

    James Mayer, 42, of Clearwater, faces a charge of DUI manslaughter in a fatal crash involving a scooter on Aug. 20, 2017, in Largo. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Bucs roundtable: Time for another kicking panic?

    Bucs

    Five days after the beleaguered Roberto Aguayo got cut after missing a PAT and a field goal, new Bucs kicker Nick Folk had a PAT blocked and missed a field goal.

  4. Have your say Tampa Bay on the region's future transit options

    Mass Transit

    TAMPA — It's time, yet again, for Tampa Bay residents to tell officials what kind of transit options they want for their region.

    The Cross-Bay Ferry docks at the Tampa Convention Center on its maiden voyage on Nov. 1, 2016. A regional premium transit study will determine whether a ferry, or other options such as express buses or light rail, would be a good addition to Tampa Bay. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]
  5. Today, a total eclipse of the sun will span the entire United States, crossing from the West Coast to the East Coast, for the first time in 99 years. (Dreamstime/TNS)