Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Bell Times - Never Mind

From SPS Communications about the EIS:
This This is a state requirement for large programmatic changes within the District.  Legal advised us to conduct the EIS for the bell time change as part of the feasibility study (as they would do for any such possible change that the state could deemed impactful to the environment). 

They reviewed the language, consulted our SEPA attorney and determined that this is required under the statute.

We will be speaking to this at the Task Force meeting.
is a state requirement for large programmatic changes within the District.  Legal advised us to conduct the EIS for the bell time change as part of the feasibility study (as they would do for any such possible change that the state could deemed impactful to the environment).

They reviewed the language, consulted our SEPA attorney and determined that this is required under the statute.

We will be speaking to this at the Task Force meeting.

I could not find the next Task Force meeting date and have asked for it. The meeting is today.

I don't even need to say anything.  The newest from the District:

As part of the Bell Time Feasibility Study being undertaken by Seattle Public Schools, an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) will be conducted using the three options presented to the community for feedback (see options here). In preparation for the EIS, there will be a scoping meeting for this project on Thursday, June 25, 2015, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Seattle Public Schools, Stanford Center Auditorium, 2445 3rd Avenue S., Seattle, WA 98124. 
Additionally, comments on the alternatives, mitigation measures, probable adverse impacts and licenses or permits that may be required may be submitted not later than July 6, 2015 by mail or by email. For more information on how to provide comments and the scoping meeting, please visit this site.
From "This site":
- Flip Herndon says that this will have "a significant adverse effect on the environment"
- They want an EIS that will consider transportation, air quality, noise, light and glare, recreation and public services and utilities.
My question?  Are we talking about lighting a football field or changing bus times?  What noise? What light and glare?  I see some real reaching here.
There's a meeting on June 25th, send comment, blah, blah.
Don't waste your energy.  They aren't going to do it.  They were never going to do it.  They were just shining the Board and everyone else on.
Oh, and by the way, the district wants to move money from Capital to General Fund.  From the Audit and Finance Committee Agenda
I move the adoption of Resolution 2014/2015-32 authorizing an Interfund loan from the Capital Projects Fund to the General Fund in the amount of $ million. 

Now ostensibly this is about the Legislature not having a budget so the District (and other state-funded entities) can work in July and August.  
First, I don't think the Legislature is NOT going to come thru with a budget.  I haven't heard any other person/media source say this.  
Second, you'll note that statement above does NOT include: 
  • in the case of lack of funding from the Legislature, 
  • doesn't have a time period and 
  • doesn't have a sum of money (when we know the District KNOWS how much it costs to run itself especially in the slow-down times of July and August).

There are some people in leadership in this district who need to be checked.


mirmac1 said...

What are Herndon and McEvoy afraid of? Show us the raw data and their detailed analysis. Oh yeah, we're talking SPS central staff who rarely have to do more beyond the cocktail napkin scribble. The majority on the board buy it.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Doing an EIS is not just absurd, unnecessary, and a total waste of taxpayer money -- it's also a middle finger to the board and the parents who did so much work to propose this.

We need a board that will crack down hard on senior staff for pulling stunts like this. It's unacceptable and jobs ought to be on the line over this. Insubordination by the staff to board directives is unacceptable and should be a fireable offense.

mirmac1 said...

How much is that EIS costing? And WHO requires it? What regulatory agency?

Anonymous said...

... and from today's weekly newsletter to staff:

JSCEE scheduling | Parking for meetings
Please be mindful when scheduling meetings at the JSCEE. Due to the current staff increase parking is at a premium. We have over 800 staff in the building and fewer than 300 general parking spaces. Large meetings, especially ones that start before 8 a.m. or end after 3 p.m. significantly impact daily operations of departments.

Evidence that once again we're feeding the JSCEE central staff bureaucracy mirmac1 notes because "due to the current staff increase parking is at a premium". Hope about hire more counselors, instructional assistants, truancy specialists and teachers who actually work in the schools with students - easy way to minimize the JSC Palace parking issues.


Melissa Westbrook said...

JR, hilarious. 800 staff!

Anonymous said...

Anyone who participates in a District task force and expects to have any impact is delusional.

- Charade

mirmac1 said...

I categorically refuse to be played on a task force. I'm not critiquing the role others play but I would essentially wreak havoc and have to be removed.

ProSleep Mom said...

I can't believe this. Is there any way around doing an expensive, time-consuming EIS? What does 'no agency appeal' mean? ARRGGHHHH...

Anonymous said...

Forget the EIS. The first issue is look what is pushed forward to the EIS: The exact same three choices as previously put forward by the district. Not an iota of budge on the overwhelming feedback from the public that the committee's first recommendations of moving back to a 2 tier system is the correct way to move forward on bell times. Not even a mention that there is budgetary proof not to do it. No mention no doubt because no tracking downtown in the first place. As usual the downtown administration sucks all the air out of a cogent debate and blows us a big balloon filled with vacuous hot air that maddens even the most intrepid of public advocates.

This is before we get to the EIS. They threw down a friggin EIS? Helluva effort downtown bureaucrats. Helluva effort.


Patrick said...

There was no EIS to go from 2-tier to 3-tier. That took about a day and no analysis at all, either before or after. If it wasn't required then, it's not required now. I swear, at times I think the best thing that could happen to the District is if a giant sinkhole opened up under the John Stanford Center.

ProSleep Mom said...

They don't seem to have considered the environmental impact of the 800 employees down there- might actually be more than moving the same kids to the same schools at slightly different times...
The giant sink hole sounds good to me.

dw said...

Step 1) Find out who requested the EIS. They don't magically appear out of nowhere. (FOIA/PRR) This can be backed out through diligent email sleuthing. Was it Flip, or is someone else directing this behind the scenes?

Step 2) The Board tells Nyland quietly behind closed doors that the person responsible needs to be fired or Nyland loses his contract.

Does this seem extreme? Maybe, but this is feeling like the insubordination right after the MIF adoption vote. Insubordination cannot be tolerated under any circumstances, even bad press. Insubordination must be cut off at the knees, and quickly.

I started getting a bad feeling about this over the past couple weeks, but this is unbelievable.

David said...

Wow. I think I'd have more respect for the district if they'd just said no, sorry, there's no way we can make this work, right from the beginning. Instead of wasting time and $ to craft ridiculous meaningless surveys and EISs. I would've been mad but I'd be over it by now instead of having to endure these continuous weaselly maneuvers.

Sorry pro-sleep mom, I know you've worked really hard on this.

Robert Cruickshank said...

DW - exactly. This is a critical moment. Who runs this district? Its elected representatives or an increasingly out of control staff?

Anonymous said...

This "out of control" staff isn't new. I started really getting involved with the district when my child was in their early elementary years and the district was doing the closures/splits in 2006.

I went to "community meetings" where the district told the parents that all their ideas for alternatives for the district's awful ideas were impossible. Parents and PTA would ask the district questions that were never answered. The board asks questions all the time that are never answered by district officials. Why the board doesn't write these questions down and ask direct questions about the answer at the next board meeting is beyond me.

This district has been like this for the 10 years my kids have been in the system. The district views the board and the parents as a necessary evil that they must deal with, but they have no interest in taking either seriously. And really, why would they? Nothing happens if they don't and they get to do whatever they want.

I would never volunteer for any committee and I don't bother with surveys anymore. The district throws all of those things immediately in the proverbial round file.

Leadership must be changed as this attitude towards the board and staff is inexcusable. I have no faith things will change.


Anonymous said...

Correction above: Attitude to board and parents, not staff.


Patrick said...

Step 2) The Board tells Nyland quietly behind closed doors that the person responsible needs to be fired or Nyland loses his contract.

This is a good idea, but I don't think Nyland would care. That would be a termination without cause, so he gets to collect severance. A year's pay or more? He's already said he's planning on leaving in a couple of years anyway and if the District pays him for nothing, it's no skin off his nose.

Contracts like this are at the heart of the problem.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"They don't seem to have considered the environmental impact of the 800 employees down there- might actually be more than moving the same kids to the same schools at slightly different times..."

For the win

seattle citizen said...

Whereas City, State and Federal regulations pertain (ad hoc non sequitor) relevantly to activity adjacent, against, or upon State and Federal Shorelines as per the Shoreline Management Act, to wit, to who, ergo ipso facto said regulation might pertain post haste to activity construed as publicly educational.
Nolo contendre reductio ad absurdum, said District will, ad astra, convene a task force tasked forcefully with determining which, if any, publicly educationally relevant Buildings, Structures, Bus Routes and other publicated edumacation activies might, perchance, be adjacent, against or upon a City, State or Federal Shore.
Resultant injection, inspection, detection, infection, neglection and selection of data-driven data will be displayed artfully and tastefully in the JSCEE lobby, on twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one is to be used as evidence against taking action. Pictures of the approachs, the getaways, the northwest corners, the southwest corners, and that's not to mention the aerial photography.

To apply for a one-year term on this Shoreline Management of Schools Task Force, apply to JSCEE Employee 745, who is located in the cubie 233A, on the second floor, past the water fountain, down the hall, through the door marked "Rabbit Hole", seven cubies east, four south.

Anonymous said...

I think it has been clear all along that staff was going to quash the bell times change no matter what support it had from parents, doctors, scientists, community, or the board. Staff runs the show & they just do not care to be interfered with at all.

-HS Parent

ProSleep Mom said...

The pressure for this change continues to mount; eventually it will happen, particularly if we can elect a Board who demands it.

SEA did a survey of teachers- later starts for high school had 87% in favor; earlier for elementary 75% in favor.

We have the preliminary results from the survey; of 12,098 participants (10,525 parents) nearly 65% favored or strongly favored the Modified Flip (27.8% opposed); 40% favored Ext HS day (31 opposed) and 29% favored no change (50.6% opposed). You can see more detailed results if you look at the June 2nd presentations, pages 30-33 here: Note that the numbers don't total to 100 since you could prefer or oppose one or more options.

Numerous groups have endorsed this, including Seattle NAACP and El Centro de la Raza and, most recently, the Seattle Urban League.

Finally, if we put some energy and money into improving our transportation system, we could have options that are good for kids and actually save money by reducing the number of buses (Modified Flip will do this! even if K8s are in Tier 2, where they should be, this would SAVE MONEY)- and then we could skip the EIS, right?

Po3 said...

Couple of things:

The glaring fact that Hale has a late start and seems to work out just fine and dandy continues to be ignored.

No option to just move MS/HS start/end by 20 minutes to 8:10-2:35 has ever been considered.

And why does the district not want to move bell times? Is is too much work for them? At this point it seems like they are putting in a lot of effort not to change bell times.

Lori said...

So how exactly would the extended high school day/"choice" start time option work? From one of Melissa's links, it's described as:

In this option, high schools would run periods 1 - 7 schedule, and support student choice. High school students could choose to either attend periods 1 through 6 starting at 7:50 A.M. and ending at 2:20 P.M., or attend periods 2 through 7, starting class later at 8:40 am and ending the day at 3:10 pm

Would students *really* have a choice, or would it depend what classes you took? I can envision that certain classes would only be offered at period 1, for example, to facilitate master schedules and to ensure that *some* number of students is staggered throughout the day, particularly in high schools that are at/near/over capacity.

Does this option really allow for 100% of students to *choose* the delayed start time? Have they laid out any details? Surely they must have considered the details since they have a cost estimate associated with this option.

ProSleep Mom said...

Yes, Hale and Sealth do fine with their 8:40 start.

Why is 8:10 not being considered? Three reasons-
1) American Academy of Pediatrics (and many other organizations) endorse MS/HS start times of 8:30 or later; that is the time frame the task force has been focusing on.
2) We have to have two or three tiers of busing, and 8:10 would put Tier 2 at 9am and Tier3 at 9:50- which is really way way too late for anyone.
3) to align with kids biological shifts in sleep/wake patterns, elementary should be earlier and MS/HS later. This also eliminates the 30 minute tier in the afternoon (HS out at 2:10; Elem out at 2:50) which currently costs us several million in buses.

I have yet to understand why the staff opposes this- it's the 20 million dollar question. The main reason seems to be too much work- yet they are creating a lot of work opposing it. I would think Flip has plenty to do managing capacity without adding this EIS to his workload.

They want to focus on the 1080 hour issue and the 24 credit issue- but all the options they put out, don't address either of those, which are really discreet problems from the bell time issue.

Helen said...

9:40am start for middle school--that is way too late to start school.

I agree with another comment that if the district isn't going to change anything, why waste the money on an EIS.

ProSleep Mom said...

Here is the FAQ on the Extended HS day:

It seems to be written to say as little as possible- an English teacher would have a hayday with it.

It was like pulling teeth to get this out of them, and there are certainly lots of unanswered questions yet.

But, they do say absolutely that they would run buses for both HS start and end times; this adds 83 buses to our current schedule, hence the $6 million price tag. For this hefty sum, you get only a precious few kids in their optimal time- only the HS students who choose it, and as you note, have classes they need offered at the time they want to choose. Middle school is still too early, and elementary is still too late.

There are many other costs and issues with this option- what is the cost of having the building open an extra hour? Would key staff have to be there all seven periods (principal, librarian, nurse, janitor?) and what would that cost? Would staff get to pick their schedule too? and then you need the CBA amended to deal with that. And on and on...

Anonymous said...

@seattle citizen: Ahahahahahahhahahah!

I, too, want to know more about the 800 staff members and what they actually do.

It's been clear to me this year that they don't want to change the bell times. After attending a Bell Times meeting run by someone from an outside company who didn't know how to run a meeting and being told that we were to complete an in-person survey as well as the on-line survey (which were basically the same) and being shown a video that we could only watch in sections while filling out the survey according to their prompts, I realized that all they were doing was engaging in stall tactics. Bore everyone to death with surveys and meetings and now an EIS and hopefully the issue will go away. What this all reminds me of is the old "Almost Live" skit about the "Ineffectual Middle Management Suck-Ups." Spend the day holding tons of meetings and call it "work," get nothing of note done, go home, only to do it again the next day.

North End Parent

Anonymous said...

As a parent in a K-8 middle school I cannot support the bell time change because the district offered us no cogent option. It didn't offer us an option at all. K-8s would apparently fill in all the inconvenient time slots. Why would we want to be treated, as usual, as a nose-held afterthought by district staff? This isn't the fault of the community backing the time slots, as they recommended a two tier system in tandem with the flip of times. I suppose K-8s could get behind that plan and live with either tier. But not the uncertainty of placement beyond getting a bad outcome that is the current offer within the 3-tier system insisted upon by the district. It stinks.

K-8 no

dw said...

Patrick said: This is a good idea, but I don't think Nyland would care. That would be a termination without cause, so he gets to collect severance.

Perhaps, but are we 100% sure this would be without cause? What if the investigative powers found that the request for the EIS came from Nyland himself? Surely that might be considered with cause, no? It's really hard to know how things play out in a legal battle, but frankly he would come out looking so ugly if it were true, I'm not sure how hard people would have to push to get him out the door. This is all wild speculation, of course. But what's not speculation is that this feels like insubordination.

A critical question that needs to be answered is: who requested the EIS? The city? The state? Or was it something that was initiated by someone at SPS? If the latter, then I absolutely think there would be causal grounds for firing and/or contract termination. Why? Because it's like asking the IRS to audit your company for no reason. It's sabotaging your own goals. Or in this case, sabotaging the Board and the public's goals.

I'm quite sure the answer to this question is not something we can trust that will be given freely, it will necessarily need to be dug out via PRR.

Another critical question that no one seems to have the answer to, is simply: WHY?! Why is staff opposed to something like this that makes perfect sense, and is overwhelmingly preferred by parents, teachers and students? What on earth is the problem?!

Anonymous said...

@ dw: The problem is time money and focus. The staff wants to use all three on other things. We can disagree, but that's the bottom line and there are voices not on this blog that agree with their perspective, not the voices on this blog. Not saying staff is right. Just that there is no sense wasting time wondering 'why' when the 'why' is straightforward. Can't beat this horse into submission, so horse is haltingly moving forward. But not in a way that will merit a win for the backers.

Seen It

Anonymous said...

Chief Sealth times can stay as they are. I'm convinced that one of the reasons my daughter is earning As is her 8:40 am start. She can stay up late, complete school work, and still get enough sleep to get to school on time with a minimum of stress. Why offer two different start times? Wouldn't this cost - more - money?


Anonymous said...

This is infuriating. Thank you for all your hard work so far, Pro-sleep mom. Seen it, I am sure you are right, but then I am bothered that I don't know who these people on staff are. Who are the people who are holding this up? Why can't we talk to them about it? Why does it have to be black box? I would really like to hear their response to the science, and to have someone answer my questions about how they can justify sacrificing so many children's educations like this.


Po3 said...

Westside -

We all want what you have so all our children benefit from the late start, not just students attending a couple of high schools.

If Sealth and Hale can have the late start, why can't RHS, GHS, BHS etc. have a late start? What's the roadblock to changing the HS times?

mirmac1 said...

May be a dumb question but does Metro or other entities (Amazon, Microsoft) do EIS' when they change bus schedules? If so I want to comment!

Anonymous said...

@mirmac1: That is a good point.

I am wondering if there is pushback from the elementary schools' staff and faculty about a bell times changes. I wonder if they might not be keen on having their work day start earlier after years at a later start. Then again, that may be just my particular bias--I am not an earlybird!

North End Parent

WallyMom said...


Many schools already start at 9:30, including my daughter's elementary, and yes its late.

I'd love a switch to an earlier slot for elementary students!

Lynn said...


The roadblock to changing high school times is cost. Our current schedule allows most buses to make a drop before 7:50 and then drive another am route to a second or third tier school. If we moved all the high schools later, we'd have to pay our transportation vendor another $50 to $60K for each additional bus we'd need. That's a lot of money.

ProSleep Mom said...

There is still hope for belltimes...

At the Task Force meeting today, they said the EIS was standard for any large change. It was indeed on our timeline from the beginning; originally scheduled in October 2014, but legal advised them to wait to do it until after community meetings.

The list of options is general and we are not locked into these three; they are a range for the EIS and can be modified. The EIS should be done by early to mid-October 2015, depending on the comments that are received.

The Task Force voted on which of the three options presented to the community to recommend- and while there are members who did not make it there today and will be submitting later- the vote so far is unanimous for Modified Flip. I think there will be several minority reports for Two Tiers, and for Modified Flip with K-8s in Tier 2- I know I'll be writing one of those.

Anonymous said...

There are costs associated with our current start-times too. Higher numbers of tardies & absences make extra work for staff & lower test scores. Increased physical & mental health illness impacts add 504's, counseling, substance-abuse intervention & nursing. Increased discipline, violence & crime cost schools & neighborhoods. We spend money trying to improve success rates in schools from remedial classes to tutoring to repeat testing, that would be lessened with later start-times for secondary schools. It may not cost the schools, but with earlier start-times there are increased teen driver accident rates which does cost the rest of us. Evidently SPS staff is not interested in any of those outcomes.

-Need sleep

Anonymous said...

Lynn is correct - the issue for SPS is the added cost of additional buses. Returning to something resembling 2 tiers takes more buses and more than likely an additional bus vendor, as the current one could not handle that kind of increase. Is that a logical reason to not do something that helps kids? Probably not. But then when is SPS ever truly logical? ;o)


Melissa Westbrook said...

I can only say - lucky Sealth, Center and Hale. Sealth gets a later start because of issues around co-joining with Denny. Center, I can't remember but I think it is location-based. And Hale's started so long ago, I don't even remember.

So is giving them a later start costing more money or is it just the addition of ALL the high schools?

Anonymous said...

"Takes more buses" is the accepted wisdom, but I have yet to see actual proof that it is very many more actual buses.

The numbers are really, really contradictory - and there are lots of numbers. Which makes them all rather suspect.

I'd love to see an outside prof'l entity (NOT a consultant, but an actual logistics entity that has skill in this particular type of field) - first audit and then design the system.

I think the SPS bus route people have, like most of the other depts. with good people and good intentions, lost their way in the thicket of contradictory higher directives, bad management, low morale, keep-your-head-down trenches. I suspect that there are vast improvements that could be made, but that the people who are living the dept every day can't make them b/c of the usual problems.

It's not rocket science - it's route planning. Military people do this every freaking day. Truck logistics people do this every day. Our nation moves how many people and how much freight to where? How often? It's doable, but the bell times and planning needs to be done in conjunction with the bus route standards - and those standards need to fit different parts of the city differently, not one size fits all -

But that would take will.

Signed: bus lover

Po3 said...

Back in the day when we were on a "Tier 2" transportation schedule schools shared buses by staggering bell times. So for example, Coe and Hay; Blaine and Lawton were able to share buses. When they when to Tier 3 each school now needed their own set of buses so that all elementary schools could start at the same time. I always wondered how many more buses that put into circulation.

What if we had schools share buses again?
What if we took that a step further and had MS and HS share buses. Roosevelt/Eckstein, Ballard/Whitman, Meany/(when reopened)GHS?

Do we really need every school to start at the same time? Couldn't we first look at pairing schools up and set those bell times calling that Tier 1 and then look at stand-alone schools making them Tier 2?

Lynn said...

Elementary schools don't all start at the same time - there are both 8:40 and 9:40 start times. I think the idea is to get both middle and high schools starting later - so middle and high schools sharing busses wouldn't work.

If we have to choose the best way to use our transportation dollars, which is more valuable - later secondary school start times or region-wide transportation to option schools? If we're looking for other ways to cut costs to make this work, I suggest not approving the Superintendent's start of school project and using that money for transportation. If the professionals we already employ can't figure out how to make the enrollment/hiring/transportation process work, why not replace them rather than pay consultants to train them?

Po3 said...

"so middle and high schools sharing busses wouldn't work."

Sure it would. Drop MS off at 8:45 or a 9am start, HS off at 9 for a 9:15 start, for example.
Just need to compromise a bit on "late" start time.

mirmac1 said...

Absolutamente, Lynn.

Lynn said...


Oops - I didn't understand your suggestion. That does make sense!

Anonymous said...

Yes. the frontline people who work in transportation are actually very fine people who work hard under less then stellar leadership. There are changes on that front happening right now - only time will tell if it's for better or worse. Its also good to remember that buses have many uses - not just to/from school - field trips, sports related activities - and both McKenny Vento and SPED transports also play a complicating factor. Toss in snow routes too on occasion. To date, no one who has been in the manager role related to SPS logistics has a background in transportation. That remains true now. Those kind of leadership vacuums are a huge issue with all of SPS.


Anonymous said...

You are KIDDING me that "no one in manager role in SPS logistics has a background in transportation." KIDDING ME???

(Oh, why am I not surprised.).

There are maybe 20 people at JBLM and Camp Murray alone who could whip this ... and they're not crazy high paid consultants. There are reserve units in the area that are all transportation-focused - this is what their officers and senior enlisted specialize in, both in the military and often in civilian life, because ... transferable skills! And then there's industry - Why does SPS not recruit from the world's best logistics agency ever, the US Military, for Transpo? It's a no brainer.

And the cynic in me notes that a lot of the bus cost statistics are skewed by including the cost and number of buses from the old choice assignment plan, and from the students who were still being bused in smaller numbers to schools under the choice plan. The last group of kids who were assigned or chose schools under that plan are leaving 5th grade this year - now elem. is in pure neighborhood availability mode, or option schools. So using say the last 5 years of data is skewed b/c those numbers reflect buses that just shouldn't be going in the future, b/c kids don't get an involuntary assignment to a farther school, like they used to under choice.

signed: bus lover

Anonymous said...

Bus Lover - note I said Logistics - which isn't the same as the Transportation Manager - in the hierarchy Logistics manager is supervisor of Transportation manager. The people doing route planning etc are ALL from the world of transportation - just not the management level people. So there is always a disconnect between front line understanding and management understanding - that's not uncommon in any operation - and it leads to miscommunication, etc etc etc. Surprised? didn't think so.


Jatul, start school later Seattle said...

As a member of the task force I just want to let people know that the EIS was planned into the timeline for the bell time analysis work, going back before the board voted to conduct this analysis in July 2014. This will take time and money by the district to complete, but shouldn't derail the whole process. We actually have bigger fish to fry in terms of keeping the pressure on Nyland to make a positive recommendation for later middle and high school starts to the board. That means not giving up on the 2 tier option by continuing to question the estimate that it will cost an additional $11 million to accomplish.

Anonymous said...

Director McLaren forwarded to me a "Friday Memo" dated May 15, 2015 from Theresa Hale to the school board. It contains an attachment that is the data or analysis the staff prepared regarding the cost estimate for going from three tier to two tier. I think it would be good if those who have time and energy reviewed it and commented on whether it seems accurate or not. I don't know how to attach things here though.

-- Supporter of Two Tiers