The South Orange Maplewood School District (SOMSD) has been awarded a three-year, $1.5 million grant through the U.S. Department of Education's Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP), Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr. announced on Friday.
"I am so pleased that the South Orange Maplewood School District will receive this vital educational grant, and I want to congratulate Judy LoBianco and her staff for being rewarded for their tireless dedication," Payne said. "Physical education is an essential part of our children's education, but unfortunately it is always one of the first programs on the chopping block during tough economic times. I am happy that this funding will assist schools in building and strengthening their PE programs, which help teach our children to lead healthier and happier lives."
The grant will be used to develop SOMSD's physical education programs by infusing technology into the program, improve the curriculum and improving teaching through professional development opportunities.
School Board President Beth Daugherty said, "On behalf of the Board of Education, I congratulate Ms. Judy LoBianco, Supervisor of Health, Physical Education, and Nursing Services, and her talented staff for their outstanding past work, and for this new opportunity to advance the health and wellness of all of our students."
SOMSD Superintendent Brian G. Osborne said: "SOMSD embraces the whole child and values the role that physical activity plays in helping all children experience success in school and in life. We are so very proud of this grant proposal, which partners with the community to support First Lady Michelle Obama's Lets Move! Active Schools! Campaign and will use these resources to bring children to the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity. It is only when our children are active that they learn better, experience fewer discipline problems and are more ready and focused for learning."
The Carol M. White Physical Education Program provides grants to local school districts and community- based organizations to "initiate, expand, or enhance" physical education programs, including after-school programs, for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Grant recipients must implement programs that help students make progress toward meeting state standards.
According to a release sent out by the district, the three-year project will "transform the SOMSD physical education program to a community-connected wellness program focused on individual student achievement and increased activity, both now, and throughout their lives. SOMSD will implement a comprehensive school physical activity program which will provide students with a variety of opportunities before, during, and after the school day."