Thursday, March 31, 2016

Please Take the Bell Times Survey on Issues of Concern

From SPS Communications:

Family Input Requested: Bell Times Implementation 

The Seattle School Board recently adopted a new bell time schedule for the upcoming 2016-17 school year. This change is meant to recognize and leverage research that has shown that teenagers may benefit from later start times resulting in more sleep, better health, increased academics and improved truancy rates.  

While the bell time change is exciting in many ways, we know that it has presented some significant logistical, scheduling, and programmatic challenges, and appreciate the feedback from schools, families and community members on the impact.  

As the District moves forward to a successful transition to the newly adopted bell times, it is focusing on a number of topics including Nutrition Services (Breakfast and Lunch), Before and After School Programs, and Athletics.  As part of this work, the District is seeking your input on these three (3) areas and how a bell time change could potentially affect your child(ren)’s participation. 

 Please consider taking an online survey available for families, staff and members of the school community by April 13thThe survey can be found at on the Bell Time Task Force page on the District website.


Anonymous said...

I wish the departments had communicated better on this survey and timed it better. It asks what school(s) your kids will attend, but it is being done BEFORE open enrollment announcements.

So, at best, it is confusing over which school to put down. At worst, it is going to bias the answers in big ways. Our neighborhood elementary school is a Tier 3 late start, whereas the option school is Tier 1, even though just a couple of blocks away.

The childcare and before/after school needs are very different between the two since they are 2.5 hours different for start time and end time.

I really wish they made clearer what they are looking for, or allowed second response so you can answer on what your needs will be in either direction.

(BTW, I still don't understand why the two schools couldn't have shared buses so they were both Tier 1).

- MemoReader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, the news from the Bell Times Work Session yesterday included this:

- there is an issue around the SEPA and the district has asked for a summary judgment tomorrow. The district normally wins these things.

- Pegi McEvoy said there was this meme out there that the bell times change had to be "budget neutral" but she said that wasn't the Board directive. She said transportation is an issue for all districts.

- Steve Nielsen, in answering a question from Director Geary, tried to explain how transportation is funded. The quick answer was that the district spends more than the state allots to the district. There are formulas based on miles driven, number of students, ridership, etc. that drives that state allotment so districts are driven to be efficient. He said levy dollars are used to backfill. He said they also provide more safe walking routes than the state pays for. He did say more money had come to the City because of cameras for speeders at school sites which helped to fund those routes.

- the contract with the one busing company the district uses is up in a year and I think the directors are interested in taking a close look at that.

- another issue is the agreement with the City over use of athletic fields and bell times. Flip Herndon said that renegotiation got put off for a year (by the City) and now is in discussions. The district seems to want a shorter agreement (like 2 years versus 5 years with the City.) I certainly would agree with that given the growth in both the district and the city.

- Director Pinkham brought up the issue of the 20 minutes to be added to the school day in 2017-2018. McEvoy said yes, that would so add to Tier three that those kids would get home an hour later. She said that 20-minute change is likely to drive the district (pun intended) to just two tiers.

So if you like two tiers, it is likely to come in just a couple of years.

I was amused that Director Pinkham had to ask why the change in bell times and what youth get the most out of it. He said he "didn't look at the report." I would gently point out that everyone gets the most out of work sessions if the directors read the reports given to them (especially new directors.) It was a bit of an odd moment to have to go thru the medical science. I think he just wanted to make sure who it was for (middle AND high or all kids.)

Anonymous said...

Director Pinkham brought up the issue of the 20 minutes to be added to the school day in 2017-2018. McEvoy said yes, that would so add to Tier three that those kids would get home an hour later.

An hour later? It's not cumulative, so should just be a matter of shifting all the parts 20 minutes later. Traffic might be a little worse 20 minutes later, but do they really expect that to add an hour?

Bell Math

Lori said...

A tangential question on bus funding. How do changing prices of gas affect SPS, and given that gas is significantly lower today than a year or so ago, where does that savings go?

I have a student in private school who rides a custom bus route on Metro. We pay an annual fee for the Orca card, and a few weeks ago, we got a nice refund because the price of gas is so much lower than initially expected for the full year. I love that the participating schools contract with Metro to pass those savings along so of course I then wondered what SPS does in this situation. Is First Student making bigger profits or does SPS simply pay them less than budgeted for gas?

Anonymous said...

Bell Math, yes, I think for kids at the back half of the bus route it definitely is an hour later- the difference between leaving at 3:50 and 4:10 is pretty big spread out over what is a 1.25 hour route at 3:50. By the end the bus would definitely be moving at a crawl, would definitely add 40 minutes (adding up to the hour- I don't think it would be 20 minutes plus an extra hour, of course).