In a previous thread, there had been a question about a later bell time for Garfield. Then I heard West Seattle was going that way. I had looked into this earlier this year and called the Transportation department. I was told that no other high schools were likely to get to change their start times until the assignment plan was changed. Because of the confusion between what I was told and what I heard here, I e-mailed Michael Tolley, the high school director, about this issue. I'm still waiting to hear back from him.
The issue is not if all the high schools are going to Metro for transportation; they are. (I believe all of them will be by this fall.) However, nearly every school has some form of yellow bus service whether it is for Special Ed, ESL or other students. Because of those yellow buses, it makes it difficult to change to a later start time. I was told Ballard and Hale were able to because they are both right next to alternative schools that they could share yellow buses with (Salmon Bay and Summit, respectively).
So I checked and Garfield's PTSA newsletter says no later start time next year. West Seattle, meanwhile, doesn't look like it is having a later start time but they did announce this:
"West Seattle High School will run two schedules for next school year 2008-09. First semester will be a 6-period rolling schedule with six 55 minute classes on Monday and Friday, and four 85-minute classes Tuesday through Thursday. Second semester will be 6 straight 55-minute classes Monday through Friday. We have determined to run two separate schedules next year to gather authentic and experiential feedback from our staff and students. Our aim is to determine the best schedule for West Seattle High School students, staff members, and program offerings as we transition to a 6-period structure. Start and end times for the school day are being voted on this spring, and we will release final bell schedules by the end of the year."
That should be interesting. The West Seattle PTSA is meeting tonight; apparently, parents weren't asked for their opinion. (It's nice to be asked whether or not your opinion counts in the final outcome.) Some parents perceive this "experiment" to shorten the school day and offer less instructional time.
Also from West Seattle High:
"Due to increased demand, application is now required for admittance to AP LA 11 (Advanced Placement Language Arts, 11th Grade). 87 Students have requested this class and there currently is only room for 60 students in 2 classes. The counseling staff is attempting to reduce the requests for the class by having students apply for placement. Letters were sent home with the effected students on Friday May 16th. Students who want to take this class 1) must have a passing score on the 10th grade WASL Reading and Writing sections, 2) get parent's signature on the letter and 3) get their LA 10 teacher's signature/recommendation on the registration letter."
This is precisely what shouldn't happen. (This used to happen in AP History at Hale and they had some bizarre method of selecting who could be in that class. That's gone, of course, because they don't have AP History anymore.) West Seattle should be jumping up and down that they have 87 students who want to take on this challenge. 87 students would make 3 classes; it's not like they are 10 kids over and can't figure out what to do. But no, instead of a solution that supports all students, they are going to weed kids out by making them apply for placement (letters going home to "effected" students - the irony of this being AP LA not being lost here).
Both these issues are interesting because you hear a lot about more oversight of schools by district administrators. It seems to be one of the keystones of the Strategic Plan and yet these two issues make it look a lot like the same old thing in the district. Where's the oversight?