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House panel approves scaled back version of school recess bill

in Statewide by

The House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee passed its version of the public school recess bill, setting lawmakers on two very different paths when it comes to free play.

The committee approved a committee substitute for the bill (HB 67) that would allow school boards to include free-play recess for students in kindergarten through third grade as part of 150 minutes per week of physical education requirement.

The proposal, sponsored by Reps. Rene Plasencia and Bob Cortes, also requires school districts to provide 20 minutes of recess on days when physical education classes aren’t held.

That’s significantly different from the bill Plasencia and Cortes originally filed, which mandated 20 minutes of daily recess for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

A similar bill (HB 833) filed during the 2016 Legislative sailed through its committees, receiving unanimous support in each of its stops. The 2016 measure cleared the House on a 112-2 vote, with current House Speaker Richard Corcoran and current Education Committee Chairman Michael Bileca voting against the bill.

The 2016 measure died in the Senate when it failed to get a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

This year, the Senate proposal (SB 78) — which mandates 20 minutes of daily recess for public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade — has easily cleared each of its committees, receiving unanimous support in each of its committee stops. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anitere Flores, has been placed on the Senate Special Order calendar and will be taken up on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the House heard its version of the bill just under the wire; it was the last bill to be heard during the House PreK-12 Innovation Subcommittee of this session.

The House bill now heads to the PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee.

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