Friday, March 31, 2017

Let the Mayor/City Council Know You Want Two Tiers

From Liza Rankin at Soup for Teachers: 
Apparently, the Mayor is considering contributing the one-time cost of $2.3M from the city’s coffers to make it happen. If the money is committed by May 1, SPS will be able to implement a two-tier bell schedule for THIS FALL and spare us from a 7:40am tier one start and a 3:50pm tier three end time. Please write to the mayor and your city council members to encourage them to contribute this money to benefit students and families in every SPS community!
Here is my letter to Mayor Ed Murray ( and to the Seattle City Council members (,,,,,,,,
 Dear Mayor Murray / Council Member,

I am a parent of a 1st grader and a 3rd grader at Leschi Elementary and the legislative chair for our school. 
At my kids’ school, about 70 of our 400 kids are homeless. These kids are eligible for free breakfast and lunch. However, this year when our start time changed from 8:40 to 7:55, kids had a much harder time showing up for breakfast. More students are being served breakfast after the bell either rushing/or carrying food to class and not having the full benefit of breakfast time. As a consequence, we have a lot more hungry kids at our school. As I’m sure you know, kids not getting enough to eat has a dramatic impact on learning, behavior, and overall development, and impacts not just the kids who aren’t eating, but everyone at the school.
 This earlier start time is having a huge negative impact on our school, and the current plan for is for school to start even earlier next year, which will make it even worse.
Seattle Public Schools currently has a 3-tier system for start times, which requires some schools to start way too early and some schools to start way too late, creating a hardship for families who have to get up extremely early to get to school, or who don’t have time for homework or after-school programs because their school gets out so late. 
 A 2-tier system would work much better for families, but would require extra money for additional busses. There is currently a proposal for the city of Seattle to contribute the one-time cost of $2.3 million to switch to a 2-tier system. Because the state bases its transportation budget on last year’s budget, the state would cover all additional costs beyond the first year.
Please, for my family and for many others in Seattle Public Schools, support the one-time cost of a switch to a 2-tier system.
Here are a few of the many reasons you should support this one-time expenditure:
– current bell times have come with a number of unanticipated challenges that will only be exacerbated with the additional 20 min being added to the school day next year
– three tiers creates equity issues for elementary schools
– this year’s bell times had a big impact on family schedules and child care availability
– logistics of three tiers have an impact on city traffic
– 90% of the elementary schools that switched to an earlier 7:55 start time this year had an increase in tardies – 7:40 will be even worse
– enrichment opportunity and field and space availability for middle and high school kids has been negatively impacted and will be more so if we have a 3:50 release time
– bus drivers have faced hardships with this year’s schedule in their ability to get enough hours per week to qualify as full time and receive benefits, although the beginning and end of their work days got farther apart.
– two tiers will benefit families in all school communities across all demographics, in every part of the city


Anonymous said...

What are the different times being discussed here?

alex said...

Thanks for covering this, Melissa, and great email, Liza.

Tardies at my kid's school, which has 33% FRL, increased by a whopping 101% from '15 to '16.

So, yeah, hard for kids to learn when they aren't in school & hard to see how starting school 10 minutes earlier won't make it even worse. I emailed the Mayor and the Council as well, and hope so much that they will make this two-tiered bell time a reality with general fund support.

alex said...

*I should say in the first four months of '16 vs. '15.

Another NW said...

I agree with many of these points but the high school will release at 3:50pm from the last 2-tier bell times I saw. So sports for them will start even later, not to mention jobs and homework longer commute times home...Are these what the bell times would be (last page, #27):

Time ZONES said...

Tier 1: 7:55 - 2:05
Tier 3: 9:35 - 3:45

My family has a tier 1 kindergartener and a tier 3 third grader. The result to the family schedule has been dramatic and negative. The kindergartener needs to be up and fed and out of the house before the third grader even wakes up. They don't see each other until 4:40 p.m. when the third grader gets off the school bus. And then because the kindergartener is only 5, she needs to go to start getting ready for bed by 7pm at the LATEST to avoid a grumpy, underslept monster kindergartener the next day. That means my children only get to see each other for 2 hours and 20 minutes a day on weekdays.

Having two different start times wouldn't be as difficult if one of our children were in middle or high school, because by middle/high school, the children will be able to feed themselves breakfast and get themselves ready for school and at some point even get to school independently. But a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old still need parental help. And having their start times almost two hours apart really extends how much time I, the parent, need to spend on the getting ready for school routine each day.

I work from home and after my tier 3 child starts school at 9:35, I only have a four and a half hour work day before my kindergartener gets out at 2:05 p.m. That's a 22.5 hour work week. If I want to work any more hours than that, I need to either get my spouse to work fewer hours, pay for childcare, plop my child in front of screen, or work in the middle of the night.

Having two tiers would dramatically improve my family's life. We could live in the same time zone again. The kids could spent time together during the week. I would have more time to get my work done.

And we could see friends with jobs during the week. Because: have you ever tried to get together with dinner with anyone who works downtown AND still started getting your kid ready for bed at 7?

Anonymous said...

My son is literally tardy every day. We just can't get there at 7:55. He makes it around 8:10. I really hope 2 tiers happens!!!!

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

The arguments for 2 tiers would also be arguments for returning MS/HS to the 1st tier.

SPS craziness

Greenwood Mamma said...

We also have young elementary school children who are on opposite tiers (tier 1 and 3). Having their start and end times shifted by almost 2 full hours has been an enormous hardship on our family this year. We support two tiers since that would bring their start/end times closer together.

Anonymous said...

What would the NEW two tier times be?

Sorry - if two tiers means my HS student has to be on Tier 1 and there at 7:45am, I'm not supportive at all. The later 8:45am has been a godsend for attitude, sleep, and academic performance.

QA Parent

Sammy said...

My 7 year old attends a TIER 3 school and takes an after school class one day a week. He loves the class, but he doesn't get done until 5:15 p.m. With traffic he isn't home until 5:40. C'mon, Seattle, really? A 7 year old can't take a LEGO class and make it home before 5:40 p.m.? Please make it two tiers! Kids should be able to be kids.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

If Tier 1 starts at 8:00, then Tier 2 would probably be 9:00 at the earliest. The high school day is longer than the elementary day, plus they are adding 20 min to the school day. A 9:00 high school start would mean a 3:50 release. That's 90 min later than last year, and 35 min later than this year. It's just too late when you factor in sports and afterschool jobs, etc. Why oh why did they make the flip when these changes were in the pipeline??

flip back

Prosleep Mom said...

The science is clear; adolescents have a different sleep schedule than adults- all the major medical organizations recommend that middle and high school should start 8:30 or later. The flip was made to get to these optimal times for middle and high school kids- and as a parent of a high school student, I can attest that the change has made of world of difference for my kid.

The choice here is between two tiers and three- and to me it's a no brainer that two tiers is a much better choice. Two tiers was the hands down preference of the Bell Times Task Force; and was strongly preferred by parents in all the community meetings (I attended almost all of them).

Creating a schedule that would work perfectly for every one of our almost 55,000 students is impossible- if you know what that schedule would be, please let us all know. Meanwhile, two tiers would create reasonable times for the great majority of families, and times that would align with the predominant sleep rhythms of most of our kids throughout their education- that is the best that we can do.

The City could make a huge difference in the lives of so many with this one time, transformational funding- please write and encourage them to do it!!

Letters need to be in before April 3rd- write one this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Please tell us what the proposed new start and end times are for elementary, middle and high school. Thanks. -NP

SusanH said...

For those who are asking what the proposed times are, Another NW provided a link to the proposal above, with school-by-school start and end times. Look it up. Pretty much, elementary starts at 8:00, and MS/HS start at 9:00. Seems great to me. Two tiers gets rid of the super-early and super-late starts that everyone complains so bitterly about.

Anonymous said...

The 7:55 start time is brutal for us. Getting our five-year-old to the bus stop by 7:08 is impossible so we have to drive. To get enough sleep she should be going to sleep at 7:00pm but that's never ever going to happen. She never eats breakfast because she's too tired. Starting ten minutes next year earlier is just nuts.

Anonymous said...

Under the two tier program, high schools and middle schools would start at 9:00 am and end at 3:50 pm.
K-8s times would vary with some starting at 8:00 am and others at 9:00 am, and end at 2:30 or 3:30 pm.
Elementary and Alt schools would also have variable times. Most would begin at 8:00 am, but some would start at 9:00 am. -NP

Prosleep Mom said...

PLEASE WRITE by April 3rd! We do not want to miss this chance!!
Below is a sample letter and the pertinent addresses:

Email these people and request that the Seattle Department of Transportation fund this initiative. You may copy and paste the message below or write your own.,,,

Dear Seattle leaders,
Please support Seattle Public Schools by allocating $2.3m to the transportation costs of the Bell Times Initiative, as well as $367k to continue the Crossing Guard Program -- effective this coming school year.
It's my understanding that Seattle anticipates collecting $14 million from school speed zone violations in the next two years. A portion of these funds can and should be used to ensure the safety of Seattle students. Based on ample research Seattle Public Schools has determined that shifting to two start times is in the interest of the safety, success, and well being of our students.
As a Seattle resident and parent I ask that you use the speed zone camera funds as they were initially intended -- to benefit our students.
Seattle Parent

Anonymous said...

Wait, would schools such as Cascadia really start at 8 where most student's have significant bus rides. That's nuts.
While I agree middle and high schooler's need a later start time should it really come at the detriment of younger student's sleep times?

Sleep Please

Jet City mom said...

If middle & high schoolers are using Metro, I guess I dont understand why changing their bell time affects elementary kids.

Anonymous said...

Cascadia, like most elementary schools, would start at 8:00 am under a two tier system. -NP

Lynn said...

Middle and high school special education students ride school buses, as well as middle school students who live two or more miles from their assigned school.

Anonymous said...

Why would MS and HS end at 3:50 if start time only shifts 15 mins?
Is there a link to the proposal?

Lynn said...

The school day will be 20 minutes longer next year.

Anonymous said...

A 3:50 end time is insane. For all those who talk about balance in students' lives, sports and afterschool activities help provide that balance. They are a much needed break from the grind of school, help provide the focus for homework, and keep kids healthy, both mentally and physically. But a 3:50 end time - a full 90 minutes later than last year - is shifting to the other extreme of *forcing* students to stay up late and causing them to miss even more periods of school for meets/games.

bleeping crazy

Anonymous said...

Issaquah's bell time task force info:

The majority of responses to a proposed later start for MS/HS:
* MS and HS [would] start too late
* Later start time means later bed time
* Prefer current bell schedules
* Propose different bell schedules

9:00am is TOO LATE of a start time and 3:55pm is TOO LATE to end school! At IHS 67% of the students voted NO to this time change! 35 teachers would consider leaving and most would no longer advise after school clubs! Listen to the students and teachers! Switching to mornings for clubs/sports would lose many students!

I do not believe they will get more sleep. They will just stay up later.

Starting later is a good idea. But a 4pm dismissal seems a bit too late for high school students considering all the after school activities.

Getting out of school at nearly 4 PM is too late and may interfere with sports, clubs, jobs, and other activities.

-sanity elsewhere

Anonymous said...

I agree that 3:50 is way too late to end high school. With the 3:15 bell time this year, my 15 year old is up past midnight at least a couple times a week doing home work. When you factor in an after school activity or job, dinner, commute time, down time - you run out of time. The amount of homework in high school is A LOT and counts towards grades toward college. I've posted my concern two different places online where 2 tiers is heavily favored. In both, I expressed that I think the bell times for tier 3 and tier 1 are ridiculous and understand their cause, but expressed my concerns regarding lack of sleep and high level of stress my child has from having less time to do homework. In both cases nobody made any comment on my concerns so I felt ignored/like a heavy minority. I will have 2 in high school next year and both love the extra sleep in the morning, but would vote for an earlier start so they have more time after school.

NE Mom of 3

Anonymous said...

The vote for a possible 2 Tier schedule, with MS/HS beginning/ending at 9:00 and 3:50, respectively, was part of a January Board vote to approve transportation standards. Wow. It's a significant change that really slid under the radar. All with no analysis of how this flipped schedule is actually working for staff and families. Hard to believe it's a done deal. Elementary students are on a super early schedule that requires more after school care, and MS/HS are on a super late schedule.

SPS should survey families/staff/students about the change this year, plus the possible change to a 3:50 release. Has there been any increase/decrease in tardies with the change? Do students feel more/less stressed? How do teachers feel about a 3:50 release that obligates them to stay until 4:20 (supposed to be available to students 30 min before and after school)?

flip back!

Anonymous said...

Did the community engagement ask about 1) adding the extra 20 min to the school day, and 2) moving to 2 tiers, but not 3) moving to 2 tiers with the revised start/end times?

flip back!

Anonymous said...

The three tier system is unsafe (kids waiting for buses and walking home from bus stops in the dark), has resulted in sleepy and tardy elementary school kids, and has greatly-impacted transportation availability for field trips and sports teams. Most field trips have to end by 1:00 or earlier so 1st tier buses can be ready for their afternoon departures. Kids on sport teams have been pulled out of class ridiculously early because of bus availability.

Going back to 2 tiers makes sense.

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

3:50 end time? You wish! Blaine currently gets out at 4:05. 4:15 next year if the added time goes through.

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

Hale has started at 8:30 or later for years. It is wonderful. My kid did sports and homework after school. It was never an issue.


Lynn said...

District staff is looking at the results of the change in bell times. See page 71 of last week's Friday Memo.

On the other hand, I recall seeing some analysis that the tier one elementary schools have seen an increase in tardiness this year. 7:55 is too early.

There was some outreach to parents on when the extra 20 minutes should be added to the day. The results were ignored because the district wanted something else. There was no outreach to parents at any point to find out if they wanted a longer school day and accompanying weekly early release.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lynn!
I asked my MS & HS kids about the possible new schedule and they both thought 3:50 was really, really late. But neither of them wanted to start school at 8am, the 8:30 time was "perfect" for them.
Our kids spend way too much time in school and then they get home to do homework.
Something is seriously wrong, wish I had the guts to homeschool or the money to go private.

Anonymous said...

@ Confused, FYI private school doesn't necessarily mean less time at school, or less homework. Often there's more of both. SPS has pretty short school days compared to elsewhere.

Full Daze