Also, Marty McLaren is having a meeting tomorrow. If you can go, let her hear from you.
12:30-2:00 on Wednesday May 9th at the Southwest Library, 9010 35th Ave SW
- school playgrounds not sufficiently lit
- issues with adults (teachers or staff) being there to supervise
- No Public Engagement: The District introduced the new transportation
plan at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, May 2 to be voted on at
the next meeting, May 16. Staff admitted there was no public engagement
prior to introduction of the plan. Furthermore, the proposal
acknowledges that 5-6 additional schools will need to be moved to Tier
One, but staff won’t disclose which schools will be affected. That robs
those who will be affected of the opportunity to evaluate the impact to
their school communities and provide feedback.
- After Open Enrollment: The Transportation Service Standards, adopted by the School Board on February 1, 2012, state that bus arrival/departure times and school start/end times must be established prior to the start of Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment ended in March.
- Enrollment: The District has not considered the impact on Enrollment if they make this change now. We predict that many families will leave option schools on Tier One because of the time change and show up at their attendance area school, many of which are already over-crowded.
- Safety: The Transportation Service Standards state that option schools can have bus rides up to 60 minutes. For an option school K-8 on the first tier for buses, with a bus arrival time of 7;10 am, that means that some buses could be picking up children at 6:10 am. With a 45 minute ride, the first bus pick-up would be at 6:25 am. For bus routes with community stops, the bus stop can be up to ½ mile from a child’s home. It is not safe for young children to be walking to their bus stops and waiting at bus stops in the dark.
- Sleep Issues: Young children who require 11 or more hours of sleep at night would have to go to sleep at 6 pm. Research shows that middle and high school students should start school later. This early a start to the school day will not lead to good educational outcomes for any students – elementary, middle or high school.
- Parental support and engagement in homework: Research shows that parental support and engagement in homework is an important contributor to student achievement. Yet, changes to school start times will have little to no effect on the core working hours of the vast majority of parents. All it will do is reduce the number of hours that working parents and children have together to read, review assignments, and give and get help with homework.
- Impact on Staff: Some staff will not be able to continue to work at schools on Tier One. For example, day cares typically open at 7 am. A staff member who is required to be at school prior to bus arrivals will not be able to work at a Tier One school. This will mean Tier One schools will be disadvantaged because the pool of available staff will be smaller than other schools in the district.
- Impact on after-school care infrastructure: Spreading out the bell
times for different elementary and K-8 schools will put on a strain on
various aspects of after-care infrastructure. Programs will have to
staff for longer and pass those costs on to parents.
Lunch: Right now, TOPS starts at 8:20 and half our students eat lunch at 10:45 am. Many parents find their children come home with their untouched lunches because children are not hungry for lunch at 10:45 am. Teachers (especially in the youngest grades) report that they have had to add afternoon snack because the kids are hungry, reducing instructional time. With a 7:30 am start, lunch would have to occur at approximately 9:55 am, even earlier.
- Cost Analysis: The
District’s proposal does not contain the kind of cost analysis the
School Board should insist on before changing school start times
drastically. Where is the support for the claim that doing this will
save $1 million?
Need to Cut Costs: It is disingenuous for the District to claim that if the transportation plan is not adopted, they will have to RIF more teachers. There are other areas of the budget that can be cut. And, the District is considering the purchase of an office building and buy-back of a ground lease for $3.2 million, introduced at the same May 2 meeting and also scheduled for a May 16 vote. Does it make sense that the District can spend $3.2 million to purchase an office building and at the same time, claim that it must inconvenience thousands of families and adversely affect educational outcomes for thousands of students by changing bus times in order to save $1 million?
- Failure to Consider
Alternatives: The District has not considered other ways to cut
transportation costs that would not inconvenience families and staff and
have an adverse impact on educational outcomes. For example, District
staff discouraged the suggestion of one School Board Director to expand
community stops to more bus routes, stating there could be discipline
problems at bus stops and complaints from property owners. District
staff did not consult with families or staff at TOPS, which is using
community stops on all buses this year – without complaint and without
Three Tier v. Two Tier: If the only way the District can reliably operate a three tier bus system is to push back start times to 7:30, then perhaps we should conclude that three tiers don’t work in Seattle because of our geography and travel times.
1. Write a letter to the Seattle Board of Directors. You can email them together at the address provided in the attached, or you can find their individual email addresses here: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/cms/pages.phtml?pageid=189059
2. Reach out to your network of SPS parents. Every school and every family could be affected by this proposal. Share the attached. Share your personal letters. Share your sense of urgency
3. Write a letter to the editor of your favorite Seattle city or neighborhood paper
4. Reach out to your childcare provider to see how this would affect them. Encourage them to write letters to the school board directors as well
5. Get Mayor McGinn and Tim Burgess know your thoughts and ask for their intervention and what could be the impact on the upcoming levy if Seattle families lose faith in our SPS board.
a. Contact info for McGinn can be found here: http://www.seattle.gov/mayor/citizen_response.htm
b. Contact info for Tim Burgess can be found here: firstname.lastname@example.org
6. Attend community meetings this week:
a. Director McClaren from 12:30-2:00 on Wednesday May 9th at the Southwest Library, 9010 35th Ave SW
b. Sherri Carr at 8:30-10AM this Saturday, May 12th at Bethany Church, 8023 Greenlake Drive.
7. Give testimony or simply attend the Board meeting on May 16th (6 PM at the John Standford Administration Building). One person suggested that people bring their kids in pajamas.