I stayed about an hour (of the hour and a half allotted for the Work Session). It was mostly a complete waste of time for all involved. (I'll check and see if anything definitive finally came out but I doubt it.)
Here's the upshot -later start times for secondary schools is NOT going to happen for next school year, 2014-15. It will likely not happen for 2015-16. The issue is that no staff person can give any real idea of how much time it would take for all this "research and community engagement" they believe to be necessary.
It is clear staff does not want to do this. I do not believe they think it worth the time and effort (Banda's early statement notwithstanding that no one disputes the merits of changing bell times). I'm not even sure they believe there are good academic outcomes to be had.
Now, Mr. Wright was once again quite diplomatic and careful to state that it is not that they DON'T want to do this but that they have too much to do. Another project would have to get cut (and resources moved). He also noted that some people are new and still getting up to speed. Superintendent Banda noted that most of them were not here in 2008/09 when there were discussions around this issue. Sorry, but coming in new does NOT mean you do not find out what was on the plate before you got there.
I am a bit astonished by the pushback on how much work it would take. I think staff feels quite exhausted (rightly so) from the Growth Boundaries outreach and, well, the blowback from it.
The Board, on the other hand, is much more pragmatic (to varying degrees). I believe all of them think this should be planned to be discussed. No more "we'll get to it X year." No, they want a real date and a timeline a la Tracy Libros kind of timeline. But they had quite different things to say.
From my notes:
Discussion of Hale and its current late start: Director Carr said she had an athlete at Hale who almost failed a class because of missing a lot of her 6th period class. This was a bit confusing as Pegi McEvoy had just gotten done telling the group that Hale has an advisory 6th period just so athletes who have to leave don't have these problems. No explanation was given for the disconnect.
McEvoy also pointed out transportation costs for athletes and possibly how that could be affected by a time change. Well, if Seattle went back to the Metro league (another long-term "got to get to that" discussion), those transportation costs would go way down.
President Peaslee said that she would like to see the numbers on how many students are late and/or miss first period because of the early start times. She also said there was no community engagement on changing bell times for next year so why is it so much more vital for later start times for secondary schools?
Banda said that it was because most of the bell time changes for next year are 30 minutes or less.
Bob Westgaard of Transportation said that the three tier plan would probably not see costs change but that a two-tier plan would.
Then Michael Tolley said that the "1080" was an issue. He said that 7-12th grades had to have 1000 instructional hours. President Peaslee pointed out that a time change would have no affect on that but rather it's the schools who have early/late release days that would have that issue. Charles Wright then said it could also affect professional development time.
Director Carr, as usual, cut to the heart of the matter. She said (and I'd have to see this to believe it) that when they were discussing this back in 2008, everyone seemed on-board until the elementary parents got wind of it and that she had more e-mails than she received even for school closure/boundary changes.
She said that her "ask" is that they get to someplace where the staff is accountable to hold this discussion and not keep kicking it down the road.
Director Peters said she had read the two articles included in the staff presentation and then looked up more. She found one - by one of the same authors - that was a longitudinal study of districts that HAD changed and found that they could work through the logistics. The point is that no one is saying it is going to be easy but yes, it can be done.
President Peaslee agreed and stated that the reason the Board did not call this out as one of their priorities was because it had already been stated - years back - as part of the work that staff had before them.
Director McLaren said that she didn't get the impression that it would be expensive to flip bell times. But she said figuring it all out could take a lot of staff time. She said that they needed a plan to fit within the next 3-5 years. She said that it did not appear that anyone on the Board was trying to stop or slow this down but that all agreed it needed to be done correctly.
Director Martin-Morris said no one was discounting the research but that wasn't the issue. He talked about the financial constraints on the work already before staff. He said he could not support little kids standing in the dark.
Director Blanford said he was swayed by the discussion at the Operations Ctm meeting about the many "unknowns." He said they needed to do "analytical" research and set priorities.
Director Patu said they had been around this topic since 2008 and it was time to resolve it. She said she had seen how students at RBHS had done better getting to school with an 8 am start. She also noted that there were already small kids waiting for buses at 7:30 am so that it was not going to be startling to many parents to see these changes.
Director Carr went back to the pragmatic. She said they still had an on-going budget deficit and had asked Transportation to find efficiencies. She said they could not change to something that would cost more. But she also said this work needs to start.
President Peaslee stated that one way to save money would be fewer bus stops and more hubstops. She said students would get more exercise and the district could have fewer stops.
There was a bit of a push-pull (but gently) by Directors McLaren and Peters over staff ability to do this. McLaren insisted they needed dollars to hire a consultant and Peters thought if they were looking to implement long-term, staff could do the planning. McLaren adamantly said no, they did not have staff to do this work.
My analysis is that the Board is a yes to getting to planning to consider this idea but staff will not do it until direct to do so and told what work to pause on in order to consider this initiative.
My take is that it is dead for the foreseeable future. I can see the passion from Peaslee and Peters (along with Patu's impatience) but I don't see any real interest from McLaren, Martin-Morris or Blanford. Carr seems to care but I don't know if she will push this or not.
End of Update.
Superintendent Banda is putting down to the assembled Board members about how difficult it would all be to do this. "No one disputes the merits of changing bell times." Which is a weird statement given he said they need to do research on this issue.
One thing I can say is that parents have done the research on why this is a good idea.
As to the logistics, that is indeed the district's job.
I also am hoping that Meg Diaz or some other savvy person might investigate the district's on-going claim that administration is at 5%, down from 9%. There are a lot of open positions and a lot have been filled and I find it hard to believe they are at 5% (unless they had reorganized so that there are fewer people recognized as "administration). I would warn the district that playing around with these numbers can (and has,in the past) backfired on them.
Super just said he would not recommend delaying start times for high school for 2014-2015.
I do find it odd that the Superintendent is doing most of the presentation as this doesn't seem to rise to the level of needing him. But I suspect staff wants a united front.
It was noted that most of the changes to bus schedules will be between 5-10 minutes, none more than 30 minutes (Laurelhurst, for example, will change by 20 minutes).
Now they are getting into the back and forth and it is quite interesting.