School boards are making schools healthier places so that students have the best opportunities for learning and being physically and mentally fit.
Dr. Bob Rauner has been enlisted by the Nebraska Association of School Boards to promote the connection between fitness and learning for the whole child. Dr Rauner is the director of the Partnership for a Healthy Nebraska, and he has spent the past five years compiling statistics at Lincoln Publi Schools that show the correlation between fitness and student achievement.
By gathering data on fitness and student achievement from across the state, Rauner and association officials hope to help districts start healthy practices. These might include making sure students have recess, start a healthy breakfast program, or build exercise spaces such as a walking track.
To do that, they’ve created an interlocal agency called the Nebraska Whole Child Project that will act as a clearinghouse for statewide fitness and student achievement data and a means of securing private donations. State law allows the creation of such agencies, which have their own boards of directors.
The idea for the Whole Child Project came from the school district association’s board, which had been discussing ways to create partnerships with the private sector and expand the notion of a school’s success beyond test scores, said John Spatz, executive director of the Nebraska Association of School Boards.
“We’re excited about this,” Spatz said. “It’s new and a little bit different.”
They’ve been developing the idea for about two years, and 61 school districts and educational service units have signed on so far. It also is open to state colleges and universities.
The first step, Spatz said, is raising enough money to hire people to train interested school districts in how to collect the fitness data, administer the fitness test, then compile it along with test scores, obesity rates, poverty and other student demographics.