WASHINGTON — Congress approved continued funding of the Physical Education for Progress (PEP) grant program in late December. As they did in 2005, $73.4 million was approved for 2006. The only change expected from 2005 is a 1 percent cut, which is an across-the-board reduction to the entire Labor Department of Health and Human Services bill that contains the PEP program.

“We consider this a very positive indication that our policymakers are hearing the voices of advocates on the importance of making quality physical education in our schools a priority,” said Anne Flannery, president and CEO of PE4life.

She said PE4Life owes thanks to those who joined a Congressional PEP rally on National PE Day to help preserve the program.

The PEP program, introduced in 2001, has enhanced K-12 physical education (PE) programs across the country through grants used for training in health and wellness-based physical education methods and the acquisition of state-of-the-art PE equipment and facilities.

According to a Department of Education (ED) report, the application notice for PEP grants will be on Feb. 27, with applications due on April 12. The ED estimates that there will be 63 grants at an average $250,000 each.