TALLAHASSEE - Florida's 2.6-million public school students won't be required to take physical education and nutrition classes until at least the fall of 2005, a delay that may give school districts time to better identify ways to fight a growing obesity epidemic among schoolchildren.
The state Department of Education, under a measure unanimously passed Tuesday by the Senate Education Committee, would study physical education in schools, examine personnel issues related to implementing mandatory phys ed classes, and recommend ways to promote fitness among all students.
Gov. Jeb Bush identified the obesity issue as a priority last fall, when he directed a task force to make recommendations for lawmakers to consider this session.
"It's one step forward, but we could've done more," said Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Aventura, sponsor of one of three bills incorporated into the committee substitute. "It's turned into a study. It's the kind of thing that needs action."
However, education officials and physical fitness advocates all backed the committee's measure.