I am writing a separate post on the discussion about high school bell times from yesterday's meeting of the Board's Curriculum and Instruction Committee.
First, Sherry asked Carla Santorno about the academic impacts as none were stated when this issue was brought up at the last Board meeting. Both Sherry and Harium seemed to think that just discussing it from an operations viewpoint was lacking. Carla basically said that this change would not affect academics one way or the other. (Interestingly, Carla was asked to present something at the next Board meeting about the academic use of a later start time. If she said there was none in this particular option being presented, I'll be interested to see what she says at the meeting.)
Second, the issue of why some K-8s/high schools were not on the list was brought up. Michael Tolley, the high school director, said he wasn't sure why that happened for K-8s but that Nova and Center School were left off the list because they have no yellow bus service and are strictly Metro. There was some vague talk from Carla about where schools are located that affected which ones were on the list. I don't know what she meant and there was no follow-up.
Third, Harium and Sherry both expressed concern over APP at Lowell and Thurgood Marshall having to change start times because they had heard from constituents. Carla said that she had asked Transportation about taking K-8s and APP off the list.
There was some discussion about "hub stops/"cluster stops" which are stops that are more centrally located in some areas and allow buses to bypass narrow streets and save money on gas and ride times for students. Apparently this is happening in Wallingford and seems to be working. There was discussion about little kids out on arterials but it seems like there is always a parent who watches over a group of kids waiting.
So high school. And here's where I got irritated. Carla said, during the K-8 discussion, that she wanted consistency. The district's Transportation department is talking about standardized bell times and there is this whole push for alignment of start times. But it's really about money.
Hale doesn't want to change its bell time. I get why; they are used to an 8:30 am start time. And, since whatever Special Ed they have doesn't require yellow bus service, they might get to keep their start time. As long as the high school is fully on Metro, they don't care what time it starts at. I'm not out to get Nova or Center or Hale but how is this fair? The alignment doesn't seem to matter if it's not saving money.
Michael Tolley said that Ammon McWashington, the director of Transportation, was trying to establish a standard but that there would be flexibility. Well, not if you have yellow bus service at your high school.
Basically, it's about the law saying that Special Ed students can't start at different times than regular ed. And, many Special Ed students ride yellow buses (the ones that go to Nova and Center apparently take taxis).
Of course, this begs the question (and Special Ed parents help me out here): what happens if the Assignment plan changes program placement? I thought I understood from discussions here that the district is moving towards having Special Ed students served in all buildings to save transporting them all over the city. (And it's not just Special Ed. I know we have one yellow bus at Roosevelt to transport Laurelhurst students because there is no Metro service in that neighborhood.)
Also, Sherry said that in her discussions with Transportation staff, if the technology could catch up they might be able to squeeze in another 15 minutes at some point. (Again, with our district not being up-to-date on our technology, we are playing catch-up.)
Honestly, I am not mad because there is yellow bus service for Special Ed nor do I begrudge Hale their start time. But why all the talk about standardization if there are to be exceptions? So the point really isn't to have all the high schools start at the same time but to keep finding ways to save money and using standardization as a reason but not really following through.
So my feeling is that they will back off of changing the start times for K-8s. Write your Board member and let them know how you feel. As for high schools, again, it seems most will go to 8:00 am but with the Assignment plan changing and shifting program placements, who knows? (And if things do shift, I hope the Board won't be surprised if other high schools ask for the same flexibility that Hale is asking for their own students.)