CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Coming soon to Bradley County's public schools: More than $243,000 worth of exercise equipment.
The school system is using some money from the federal Carol M. White Physical Education Program grant to make the purchases. The money was awarded last year.
The shopping list includes 65 stationary bicycles, at $1,021 each, for the county's two middle schools and two high schools, and 40 bicycles, $672 each, for the two high schools. Including a maintenance contract, the total is $75,878.
The school system also is using $37,000 from the White grant to buy a ropes course for Ocoee Middle School. Lake Forest Middle already has a ropes course, purchased with another grant.
And the school system is buying climbing wall systems for various schools for a total of $130,154.
When county school board members approved the purchase recently, they praised local teachers and administrators for seeking out grants that supplement the schools' budget. Without the outside funds, board members said, county schools would be left behind.
The White grant runs for three years. This first year's grant is $576,579, some of which is being used for teacher training, as well as equipment. The second-year grant is $144,716, and the final year is $132,616.
There were no gym classes at Lake Forest Middle on Friday, but physical education teacher Traci Branham and Principal Ritchie Stevenson demonstrated how the already installed "game wall" works.
With flashing lights, loud music and scoreboards, the wall can be used for a myriad of activities, from volleyball to jumping games, Branham said.
Fifteen of the stationary exercise bikes are expected to arrive at Lake Forest next week.
"Exercise helps with academics," Branham said. "It helps the test scores. Teachers were shown pictures of the brain before and after exercise. The next class after PE is always a good one."
Stevenson said there is a renewed effort in schools to teach nutrition and fitness.
"The community is getting involved, too," he said. "We've got people coming out and using the walking trail. I love that."