Tonawanda News — Last year, North Tonawanda High School’s fitness room was small, outdated and sparsely attended.
But with the acquisition of a $1.43 million federal grant, the district was able to triple the size the the school’s fitness room in July and add new high-tech equipment, weights and interactive software, officials say they’ve already begun to see a dramatic shift in attendance and interest among the students with still a month left to go before school is back in session.
The move is an about-face from years of cuts to programs and staffing that members of the Board of Education attributed to a slump in enrollment numbers and a loss of state and federal aid.
Athletic Director Cindy Bullis said none of those changes would have been possible without the grant, called the Carol M. White Physical Education program, which is distributed through the U.S. Department of Education.
It requires the funds to be used specifically for the additions as well as incentives to bolster students’ interests in physicality, including after-school programs and a checks-and-balance system that requires strict data collections over the next three years.
While Bullis and others have noted the number of students already using the facility since early July has risen sharply, even though school is out, it is also likely indicative of what’s to come.
When she took over the helm of the department two years ago, she launched into the federal grant process, along with physical education teachers and several administrators, hoping to win the grant money that many considered a long-shot, as hundreds of other applicants from across the country sought out the funds.
It worked. But the effects will also be seen at other districts schools as well, Bullis said. A similar, scaled-down fitness room will be placed on the main floor of the Middle School by early September.