Thursday, May 07, 2009

School Bell Times - I Almost Forgot

(Updated: I added the Superintendent's presentation to this post in paragraph 1.)

In my unhappiness over the math adoption vote ( and it's not anger but a numb disappointment), I forgot to mention the hilarious discussion over bell times, primarily for elementaries (and a couple of "second tier" K-8s). This was the first item that Dr. G-J went over in her superintendent's report.

She explained that there was a difference between bus arrival times and school start times (the buses have to arrive 15-20 minutes before school starts so kids who have breakfast there can eat). For end times, she said the buses would generally leave about 5 minutes after school ends. She further explains that they have changed the ARRIVAL times (and therefore the START) times by 10-15 minutes back from what was previously announced. But, and this is key, she didn't say instead of "X:00 to X:00, it's now Y:00 to Y:00". So naturally, some directors raised their hands.

But then she has Mr. Bishop, the staff person in charge of this, come up to answer directors' questions. And the main question is...what does this mean for real start times? First up, Harium. Mr. Bishop rambles through his reply (and seriously, he was speaking English but I couldn't follow it). Harium smiles and said, "That didn't answer my question. When I have parents call me to ask what time their school starts at I need an answer." Mr. Bishop said oh, we have a list and we can give it to you. Harium: great. Then Peter Maier gives it a shot and again, Mr. Bishop just wasn't clear.

Then there was some discussion by the Superintendent about putting the times on the website (there's some thinking) and putting it out to the PTAs (why?) so they can let their membership know.

First, I believe this backpedalling on the start times is because many, many parents let Board members know their unhappiness. Good for everyone who weighed in. It worked.

Second, I still am not sure of the window for the START times but I think it's from 9:15-9:30 but hey, go check the SPS website. Sometime but I don't know when.

Third, all this talk of aligned start times is BS - start everyone at the same time so there is no confusion. I'm sure there's some reason why EACH school gets to pick its start time (and by pick, I mean staff and principal, not parents) but it's confusing. And I'm sure the bus drivers love trying to keep track of who starts when.

Fourth, this is the most BASIC information for parents. And the district has trouble explaining it to Directors? And has to think of ways to get it out to parents? This information needs to be front and center on the website and should be there BEFORE people get their assignment letters later this month.

Parents need to know what time their child's school starts and ends and I can't believe I had to say that outloud. But judging from last night, yes I did.

16 comments:

SPSMom said...

I watched that presentation and am more confused than ever. Another vote coming. Three and counting. And then DeBell, who I highly regard, stating that we will begin to study this in the next year.

Did anybody catch the "K-8's getting their day shortened." Huh?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yeah, thanks for pointing that K-8 comment out. I do remember hearing that and thought the same thing.

dj said...

Perhaps Lowell is unique because it is all-city, but I have stood out there watching the busses and they do not "generally leave within five minutes" of the time that school ends, that I have seen.

Charlie Mas said...

It has been discouraging to see the superintendent and the staff fumble around with this.

They have already brought a motion forward and got Board approval. Then they had to bring forward a technical correction. Now they have to bring forward yet another revision. They appear incompetent.

More than that, it appears that they simply didn't think this thing through very well. That's the really discouraging part. It's clear that they are rushing this stuff and not being very careful about it.

It is interesting to me that the last two Board votes were expedited but there doesn't appear to be any hurry about the next one. That makes all of the previous urgency to be manufactured and false.

jamie said...

The buses at our school do not leave within 5 minutes either. If it's not pouring I'll try to time them today. Does the 5 minute bus departure exist at any school?

Keepin'On said...

Did anyone notice the part of the presentation that said ALL schools will have their start time moved up 10-15 minutes?

Does this include high schools? Now to start at 8am?

Priya said...

Are the shortened k-8 days all of the k-8's or the ones with later start times?

Maureen said...

ARE some K-8s having their days shortened, or was some sort of conditional statement made (like IF we do this THEN some K-8s would have to be shortened)? I don't see how it can be done legally. Does any one know when the Seattle Channel will likely post the video for cableless losers like me?!

Abby G. said...

"Third, all this talk of aligned start times is BS - start everyone at the same time so there is no confusion. I'm sure there's some reason why EACH school gets to pick its start time (and by pick, I mean staff and principal, not parents) but it's confusing. And I'm sure the bus drivers love trying to keep track of who starts when."

FYI- Staff members & principal have NOT had any say about start and end times

Elise said...

I wish they would tell us the bell times soon. I will need to know whether or not I need to quit my job to hang around the house for an extra hour to get my elementary child to school at 9:40.

Yep, that would be good to know.

Charlie Mas said...

What does it mean when a time is moved "up"? Is that earlier or later?

Are times moved up from 8:15 to 8:00 or is moving up to go from 8:15 to 8:30?

On the earlier-later spectrum, which way is up?

SPSMom said...

Which way is up?

Good question, maybe the third vote will make that clear.

Do you think that any board member in private has spoken to MGJ about how bad this has gone and that she needs to get it together? Or do they just think that this is a fine way to run a district?

rugles said...

Just got an email about Montlake...

Montlake's Bus Arrival and Depart from School
8:55 a.m. / 3:25
Start and End Bell Times for School
9:10 a.m. / 3:20 p.m.

SPSMom said...

I think your email is dated. From the School Beat:

New proposed school start/end times on May 20 Board agenda
The Seattle School Board at its May 20 meeting will discuss a motion for proposed earlier school start times. School Board directors voted to approve new transportation service standards for the District at their March meeting to take effect September 2009. Following the vote, the District received additional feedback about these changes from families, principals, and staff. Based on that feedback, a revised schedule has been proposed that will move up start times for all schools by 10-15 minutes. The District is working to finalize proposed times and detailed information for each school. Board members are scheduled to vote on the motion June 3.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Exactly. You get an e-mail from your school about bell times and yet still are questioning what the truth is because the word from the district is different.

It's nuts.

Josh Hayes said...

Yep. At this point I only feel moderately comfortable in saying that next year my kids will arrive at school at some time in the morning and depart in the afternoon sometime.

What those times will be remains a mystery -- rumor has it, start time is 8:15 for us AS1 people, but since our busses will no longer schlep our kids to Summit first, and then AS1, I assume the difference between pickup and school arrival will be smaller than it is currently, but who the heck knows?

A little mystery is good in one's life, I understand.