Budget Study Pays off as Teacher Finds Funding for PE Technology
Through Curriculum Adoption Process, Students Get New Physical Education Heart Rate Monitors
West Des Moines Community Schools physical education teacher Brian Rhoads’ study of technology and school budgets showed administrators why – and how they could afford it – students would develop fitness management skills with new PE heart rate monitors.
“The key was me educating those above me about what we need to do to help students be healthy and fit for life,” Rhoads said, who helped secure the funding for PE technology he sought. “If we don’t provide the necessary tools, we are doing the students a disservice.”
Since he became a PE teacher, Rhoads always included heart rate monitors in his classes. By 2016, though, he’d grown frustrated with the monitors and software he’d been using, started researching new options and came across the IHT Spirit System, which paired assessment software with a new wrist-based heart rate monitor designed specifically for PE: the adidas Zone for IHT Spirit.
“I came across the IHT system and saw it in action,” he said. “I watched pretty much every online video I could find on them. It was a no-brainer that was suited to what we wanted to do.”
After deciding to add the Spirit System technology to his PE program, Rhoads took two more essential steps:
- Producing a data-driven overview of the benefits students would see with the IHT Spirit System, and
- Showing different options within the WDMCS budget that would fund the purchase.
Physical Education Textbooks
In building his case, Rhoads showed administrators how the Spirit System software can track both progress toward fitness goals as well as academic indicators. He also cited PE’s work to improve student social and emotional fitness.
“We can look at all of the test scores tied to physical activity,” he explained. “We can see what we’re doing to benefit students academically, socially and emotionally.”
Rhoads’ key to winning over the decision-makers focused on the facts he brought them. He sees the study – and teaching – of heart rate as the key to a program that can teach students how to manage their overall fitness.
“These heart rate monitors are our textbooks,” he said. “Our leadership knows the benefit of physical education. They know when they aren’t working out and fit, they don’t do as well in their jobs. The same holds true of students.”
Knowing Where to Seek PE Funding
Convincing his leadership of the value of heart rate monitors and software was only part of Rhoads’ challenge. He also needed funding for PE technology – an often-difficult thing to find.
“A lot of money has gone unused because people weren’t tapping into it,” Rhoads said. “It’s all about being in the know and tapping into people about your needs.”
Having recently transitioned from a teaching role to a curriculum leadership role, Rhoads learned about different funding options and did his research. He learned that the school district writes a curriculum grant that can fund different department, but PE hadn’t been included. He advocated for PE to be included, and the administration added PE to the grant.
By simply asking for the curriculum grant funding, Rhoads showed his leadership the way. Departmental curricula were being finalized, so Rhoads’ timing proved impeccable.
“It was perfect timing because we were in our curriculum adoption process, so the district simply allocated what we needed,” he said. “We received three years of curriculum funding and got additional funding allocated for the following year to move forward at a greater level.”
Rhoads advice to teachers seeking funding looks very similar to what teachers tell students as they prepare for an assignment.
“You have to do the work to show them what they need to see,” he said. “The key is to show and explain what you will do with the equipment so everyone knows that it is being used and adding value. For IHT, the ability to collect and share data is phenomenal. It will allow us to continue to grow in the direction we want to grow.”