PHOENIX - "One! Two!"
Students on a central Phoenix school playground count off as a long jump rope breezes over the head of an eager jumper. "One, two!"
That's also the number of recess periods advocates want to see become a part of every child's day from kindergarten to fifth grade.
"It helps the blood flow," Atonement Lutheran Principal Megan Larson said. "Helps their thinking processes when they come in and sit down after a break like that."
Larson is a principal at a small Lutheran school where kids get outside for two breaks. Advocates for Senate Bill 1083 say that an increasing number of schools districts have cut recess to once a day, choosing instead in some cases to extend classroom time so teachers and students can prepare for annual standardized testing. In others, they cite shrinking staff sizes that make supervising additional recess periods difficult.
"What we're doing is slapping a Band-Aid on what is a larger problem, " Chris Kotterman, the director of government relations for the Arizona School Boards Association said. "If you mandate recess, OK, school districts will do it, we follow the law. Then what's next, PE -- that's a good idea. Kids need PE, but now you're into PE teachers.
"These are things the state used to pay for, but do not anymore."
"What's being asked for this year is for schools to add one recess on top of what they're offering at lunch," said Chris Lineberry, the principal at Stanfield Elementary, a small rural school south of the greater Phoenix area.
In his opinion, this is not a big ask, considering what the research has shown when kids get adequate recess breaks. Lineberry is a vigorous proponent of developing the entire student -- mind and body. He says he makes two recess periods work at his school by turning control over to his teaching staff.
"This is a change that requires very little from adults to make happen," Lineberry said. "And is going to reap us tremendous benefits by the results we get from kids."
SB 1083 passed out of the Senate education and rules committees and will head to the full Arizona Senate for consideration. In prior years, school recess legislation has failed to pass out of either State chamber.