SHIPROCK — Members of the Central Consolidated School District board have approved an agreement with a local nonprofit to improve physical education at six schools.

The five-member school board unanimously passed a memorandum of understanding between the district and Capacity Builders Inc. to fund a series of projects to increase physical fitness and activities for students.

Capacity Builders is a five-year-old nonprofit organization located in Farmington.

Rachel Nawrocki, lead regional coordinator for Capacity Builders, presented the agreement during a joint work session and regular school board meeting on Tuesday.

In April, the U.S. Department of Education awarded Capacity Builders a $2 million grant from the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, which supports middle and high schools students' health and wellbeing. Over the next three years, that grant money will go toward fitness programs at Career Prep, Newcomb and Shiprock high schools, Newcomb and Shiprock middle schools and Naschitti Elementary.

It will pay for items such as fitness equipment for students, with the goal of improving health and fitness within the communities, Nawrocki said.

The agreement also creates the Nation Youth Builders Project, which oversees the programs and provides professional development opportunities, incentives and high-dollar physical education equipment items for the schools.

Under the agreement, a nutrition and fitness leadership team will be created by selecting one liaison from each of the participating schools, in addition to two district administrators.

This team is expected to complete assessments to identify weaknesses in current physical education, health and nutrition curriculum.

Each team member also will receive an annual stipend of $1,875 for participating on the leadership team, according to the memorandum.

Under the agreement, the six schools are each scheduled to receive $15,000 in May 2015 to purchase fitness equipment and curriculum materials based on recommendations made by the leadership team.

Those items could include things such as climbing walls and strength-training machines.

Purchase of the equipment requires pre-approval by Capacity Builders.

Another aspect of the program requires the purchase of pedometers and heart rate monitors for every physical education class. Capacity Builders plans to collect the data from the pedometers and heart rate monitors to assess students' development, Nawrocki said.

Grant money is also allocated for training and resource opportunities for teachers, including funding for teachers to attend training sessions that focus on physical education to strengthen their school's fitness programs.

Also under the agreement, Capacity Builders will host quarterly family nutrition nights in Newcomb and in Shiprock, where families can have the opportunity to win exercise gear and equipment.

"We got this money for the kids, and we think it would be a great opportunity," said Deborah Montgomery, a member of the board of directors for Capacity Builders.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow her on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.