Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Two Tiers or Three? The City Council Will Decide

Update 2:  Tonight the School Board voted 6-1 to accept both city grants if adopted by the City Council next week.  (Blanford was the sole no vote).

One grant is for crossing guard costs and the other grant is to pay for the two-tier transportation costs for school year 2017-2018.  

It turns out that President Harrell is the other no vote on the City Council, along with CM Burgess. I am also told that CM Gonzalez will not be there so every vote really counts.  Here's how you can give input (from the Soup for Teachers Facebook page):

Two-tiers update: the vote on Monday will require 7 "yes" votes from City Council to pass.
If you support the city funding for two tiers, please email/call/write a message in the sky to Council President Bruce Harrell and let him know how families would benefit from this change. His vote is needed. 

Also thank Rob Johnson for keeping up the pressure to see the initiative through and remind the rest of the council how much you appreciate their support!
end of update

Update: from Seattle City Council Insight, a good wrap-up of the issue.  Turns out it is Burgess and Harrell who oppose this motion - the two people closest to the Families and Education levy dollars.

They do get one thing slightly wrong:

It’s one-time funding, because once they are running with the new system the state reimbursement will fund the following year’s busing. 

It is not clear HOW much the State will reimburse (this was stated at Work Session).

Using the available funds from the F&E levy swings on this:

But it’s not that easy: when the levy was set up, it was established that revenues would go to closing the gap in educational opportunities for underserved communities, and not for basic education needs.

Well, it would appear that it would serve some students in underserved communities but, as been pointed out, many elementary students from Title One schools appear to be late more often with this plan.

Then there's this:

Then there’s the crossing guards. According to Johnson, the city used to fund more crossing guards at marked crosswalks near schools. But during lean years it weaned off that practice, asking the school district to fund them itself. Now the school district is under financial strain, and the city is in better fiscal shape, so SPS has asked the city to commit to $380,000 in ongoing, annual funding to add crossing guards. The Mayor proposed shifting $300,000 from other programs to cover it. Burgess has voiced strong opposition to that as well, suggesting that SPS is treating the city as a bank. Harrell agreed.

Really?  Burgess thinks the district is treating the City as a bank?  I don't see that at all.  Crossing guards actually seems to be one funding measure - as part of safe streets - that the City should fund for schools.  I'm always interested in how the Mayor and members of the City Council seem at odds about how to help schools.

But I have now interviewed 6 out of the 8 top candidates for Mayor so I'll let you know how these candidates come down on the role of the City in public education.

end of update
 
From Mayor Murray to a parent constituent (bold mine):

In April, I recommended to the Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee and to the City Council that one-time funding of $2.3 million Families and Education Levy funds be allocated to Seattle Public Schools (SPS) to implement a district-wide two-tier bus schedule in the 2017-2018 academic year. I heard from hundreds of parents, community members, and education advocates about the importance of this funding to strengthen student achievement. Research shows that a two-tiered school schedule results in longer reported hours of student sleep and reduced levels of discipline in high school students. In addition, I recognize that the current tier structure, which includes start times as late as 9:30 for elementary-aged children, puts a real burden on working families. 

As City Council considers my proposal, it is important that they hear from you. The stories I heard about the successes of SPS’ “flipped” school schedules in the 2016-2017 school year, and the hardships a three-tiered schedule would cause, proved to me that this was the right thing to do.
Council is scheduled to take a final vote next Monday, June 12 at 2pm. We know at least two council members oppose the proposal and the School District has made clear that if the Council does not approve the funding next week, they will revert back to a three-tiered schedule for the 2017-18 school year. 

I encourage you to your share your stories with City Council at council@seattle.gov. Together we can ensure that our students have the best opportunities and show up to class ready and eager to learn. 

Sincerely,
Edward B. Murray
Mayor of Seattle

78 comments:

NNE Mom said...

Which two members oppose it????

Melissa Westbrook said...

If I had to guess, I'd say Burgess and Bagshaw.

Anonymous said...

Why would they oppose? High school sports? I don't get it.

Mag mom

Anonymous said...

It's not Bagshaw. I just called and she supports 2 tiers.

Mag mom

Robert Cruickshank said...

Burgess is definitely one of the councilmembers who opposes two tiers. Bagshaw would have been my guess for the second. Maybe it's Harrell?

alex said...

That seems to be the 2nd vote in opposition, despite the fact that he stated his public support for using the funds for this purpose at the ed levy advisory committee meeting that I attended.

Remember that the ed levy has 13 voting members, excluding the Mayor, Harrell & Nyland. Seven of them attended the meeting where this came up for a vote, which I also attended. Four voted no to allocating levy funds for this purpose, and three voted yes.

Again, Harrell public stated his support for using the funds for this purpose at the meeting. So, some/one member of the committee who voted NO seems to have gotten him to switch his vote b/c they think this issue is not about equity.

But, the data show that this is very much an equity issue:

Data obtained by a public record request from SPS for the first 4 months of this school year vs. last show that of the 52 tier 1 elementary schools:

* 23 of those tier 1 schools are title I schools (40% or more students receive free or reduced lunch)

· 96% of tier 1 schools (50/52) had increased tardies (Pct. Avg. Daily Tardies to Avg. Daily Students) in 2016 vs. 2015

· 44% of tier 1 schools (23/52) had an increase of over 50% in tardy students in the first four months of the 2016 school year vs. 2015

· 52% (12/23) of the schools that had an increase of 50% or more in tardy students were title I schools.

This data demonstrate that the early bell time is correlated with a significant increase in the number of elementary students arriving late to school. Furthermore, there is a disproportionate impact at the title I schools.

We can reasonably expect the # of tardy students to increase, not decrease, next year if tier 1 schools start even earlier.

Time for more lobbying, calls, tweets & emails. This 3 tier system is terrible for thousands of SPS families, and someone has got to fix it.

Anonymous said...

I was talking to a Ballard mom a couple of weeks ago and she said at her 7:55 start time school the teacher just has free time until about 8:20-8:30, because that's when the kids actually get there.

Anonymous said...

Good data for helping make the case, Alex. Coincidentally, SPS just published something on their new page re: how important attendance is to educational success. http://www.seattleschools.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=627&pageId=25934604

I was talking to a Ballard mom a couple of weeks ago and she said at her 7:55 start time school the teacher just has free time until about 8:20-8:30, because that's when the kids actually get there.

Uh-oh, then they aren't getting their OSPI-required number of minutes. Might need to add on few days of school at the end of the year! If we stick with three tiers we'll end up with a school year that goes into July!

insanity rulz

highschoolmom said...

Attendance is important for high school students, too. If high schools end at 3:50 as proposed in the two -tier system, the district will have to address the issue of high school athletes missing school. Most games start at 4PM, and athletes usually have to get out well before that to change, travel, warm up. Buses are limited and often have to arrive very early to accommodate their other routes. Students would have to miss a minimun of two periods on game days, which are usually at least twice a week. At Ingraham, for example, there are about 625 student athletes, roughly 150 per season (not counting football or basketball which have evening games), with about a 12-week season, missing 2 hours a day, 2 times / week, resulting in approximately 7200 hours of missed class at one high school in one season. A student who plays one sport can miss 48 classes / season. Many students play more than one sport. There are 9 high schools with large athletic programs, some with more, some with fewer, student athletes. Across the district, that is thousands of athletes missing thousands of hours of class. If the district is emphasizing the importance of attendance, they need to consider the ramification of these start and end time decisions on all students. Team sports have been shown to be important for keeping kids in school, making them feel connected, and keeping them healthy, too. SPS needs to figure out a way to address this contradiction and help students succeed.

Wedgwood Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Highschoolmom, could you break that data down? Because 625 student athletes sounds like a lot for one school.

I can only say that - in the end - it's about academics and yes, I know sports keep kids in school. But sports are not going to employ most kids so maybe, someday in this country/state/district, we will have to make a choice about that. Bell times may drive that.

Lynn said...

Student athletes will spend more time in class if we switch to two tiers. If we adjust the bell times so that there are no more tier 3 schools, athletes will no longer have to leave very early so that buses can make other routes. Also, 10 of the 17 teams in the metro league are Seattle School District schools. Game schedules can be adjusted so that students don't have to miss class to play.

School schedules should be set to achieve the best physical and mental health outcomes and academic results for the 1,200 students at Ingraham who are not participating in sports each season (and the children in grades K-8) rather than the 150 who choose to participate in this extracurricular activity.

Anonymous said...

Isn't physical activity a means of supporting physical and mental health?? It is for my children. And it helps with their sleep as well! Some days it's the only mental break from school. Go to school - practice - then right back to school work, but feeling better because they've had some physical activity. Please stop discounting the importance of sports! Very few are participating with the intention of seeking a professional sports career.

Ingraham has more sports fields than many high schools, so the numbers above would not surprise me. And you are just counting those participating in school sponsored sports. There are also rowers, divers, gymnasts, dancers, skiers, etc.

-sheesh

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not discounting the importance of physical activity and the school does provide it in the form of PE classes.

As for the numbers, we need to talk about sports funded by SPS, not outside activities. No wonder those numbers seemed high.

What I am saying is that if hard choices have to made for better academic outcomes and student are at school for those, then the choice of bell times should be guided on that.

Anonymous said...

Kindergarten starting at 7:45 in the morning for the benefit of teenage athletes seems like a poor trade-off.

Anonymous said...

I am less inclined to vote for these city levies if they won't use them to benefit all the kids. Tim Burgess gets his preschools for free in the public schools.

HP

Working Voter said...

There are 24 hours in a day. Shifting the time school starts and ends does not change the amount of time kids have to engage in physical activity in a day. The school day will be extended by 20 minutes next year. That is 20 minutes less a day (except on Wednesdays!!!) for students to be physically active unless they're doing their physical activity at school.

I agree with Lynn. If the schools get out a little later, games will be scheduled for a little later.

Shifting the start/end time doesn't decimate the ability of students to participate in sports, speech/debate, dance, jobs, etc.

What is a much bigger issue for the city of Seattle is educational outcomes for all public school students across the board. Also big issues for the city as a whole: are families able to find child care for the hours/days when they need it? Are workers able to have school age children AND jobs? How do school rush hours impact city traffic? Are Seattle's public school children being prepared for the types of jobs that will be around when they enter the work force? Are children able to get to school and home safely? How early do the K-2 students need to go to bed in order to wake up well rested and start school? Can families eat dinner together?

My kindergartener needed to start getting ready for bed at 6:30 and go to sleep by 7:00 p.m. AT THE LATEST in order to be up in time for tier one this year. How many families can get their 5-year-olds to bed by 7:00??? Do we just kiss family dinner goodbye?

The Seattle area has by far the worst traffic conditions in the state. Is it possible for families to work downtown and still make it home to eat dinner at 6:00 in order to see their little kids before they have to be asleep at 7? Do we want a society where families get to see their children?

Some families have kids at multiple schools. Is it OK to have start and end times shifted 2 hours apart? Can older siblings babysit younger siblings in the morning before school or in the afternoon until parents come home with this system? Is that an equity issue? This isn't a problem for families who have hired a nanny or where one parent can afford to stay home. Do we want to be a city where families need to hire a nanny or move to somewhere cheaper? How is that equitable?

Many parents with kids on tier 3 can't get to work until 10 a.m. Is that an equity issue? How many employers are OK with that? Physical activity is definitely important for children and teens. If we keep the three tier system, the K through 8th graders on tier 3 will be getting out of school at 4:05 p.m. If they ride a bus, many of them won't be home until 5 p.m. By insisting on the importance of high school athletes having specific after school hours available for sports, are we dooming hundreds of K through 8 students to getting home from school at 5 p.m.? Are you saying that physical activity is super important for high school age children but not for elementary and middle school age children? How is that equitable. When is a tier 3 5th grader supposed to play soccer or learn how to swim or climb a tree? If they get home at 5 p.m. and need to be asleep by 9 p.m. in order to get enough sleep.

School start and end times are definitely an equity issue. For kids and their ability to learn. For kids and their ability to be active outside of school hours. For families and their ability to eat meals together and find childcare. For parents and their ability to hold down jobs and show up for work at the hours their employers require.

The district (and now the city council!) must take the bigger picture into account. This is a critical issue for the lives of children and families, siblings and parents, employees and communities.

Anonymous said...

"...the school does provide it [physical activity] in the form of PE classes."

Given the 6 period day, with the choice of only one elective after taking a world language, PE simply doesn't fit into the schedule. If SPS had a 7 period day, then maybe you could say they provide PE, but in reality, SPS could not support the number of PE classes needed if all HS students took PE. They need students to be involved in school sports and band, drama, etc., and getting PE waivers.

I think the student numbers include -only- SPS sports, since they would only have numbers on those registered for school teams. The numbers are probably even higher when including outside activities.

-sheesh

Anonymous said...

Time to privatize all high schools sports. You know like how Seattle united is working all the parents for $2,000 + a year.

Wink Wink

highschoolmom said...

Melissa, here are the rough breakdowns at Ingraham:

Fall sports: football - 42 players, Cross country - 88, VB (including Varsity, JV and JVC) – 37, Girls’ soccer (V, JV, JVC) – 56, Girls’ swimming – 44, Golf (V, JV) – 19, Boys’ Ultimate (V plus 2 JVs) – 61. Total: 303

Winter sports: Boys’ basketball (V, JV, JVC) - 37, Girls’ basketball (V, JV) – 23, Gymnastics – 20, Boys’ swim – 41, wrestling – 11, mixed Ultimate (V, JV) – 55. Total: 187

Spring sports: track – 141, Baseball (V, JV) – 34, Softball – 13, Boys’ soccer (V, JV, JVC) – 57, Tennis (V, JV) – 49, Girls’ lacrosse – 22, Boys’ lacrosse – 9, Girls’ Ultimate (V, JV) – 27. Total: 352

Cheer: 22

Special Olympics: Basketball – 11, Track and Field – 14, Soccer – 9. Total: 34

Overall total: 898. Not all sports have to get out early (football and varsity basketball play at night, for example), but it is still a huge number of students that already need to miss 1-2 classes on game days.

Several hundred students play multiple sports, so the number of individual student athletes is closer to 625, still almost half of the school. I would estimate that Ingraham is about average for the nine high schools, and some other schools have many more athletes and more JVC teams.

I am not discounting the difficulties of three tiers, or suggesting that high school athletes are more important, I’m only saying that if the district does end high school at 3:50, they need to address this huge missed class time issue. I hope they are able to implement the suggestions above, like moving game times to later, getting more buses, renegotiating the joint-use agreement with the City, etc.

Tick Tock said...

Wait, so students are missing school to compete in ultimate frisbee games? I just don't understand why the games aren't just scheduled for after school gets out. I mean, the games aren't scheduled for 10:00 a.m., right? They're not scheduled for 2:00 p.m., right? It just seems crazy to schedule games that students are supposed to be playing in DURING the school day. Because students are in school during the school day. Right? Here's an idea: why not schedule games for after school gets out?

Anonymous said...

They have to leave school early to get to the games. With 3 tiers, they often have to leave even earlier due to the buses needing to get back to pick up the tier 1 kids. Sometimes my kid had to leave class at 1 PM to get to sports competitions because the bus couldn't pick them up any later. Usually the event didn't start until 4 PM and the team would get there at 2 PM, then stand around for 2 hours. 2 tiers should allow them to stay in class longer.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

highschoolmom, thank you for that. You did leave off wrestling but perhaps Ingraham doesn't have a wrestling team. Also, Ultimate is not an SPS-sanctioned at high school.

I definitely think the whole joint use has to be examined as well as game times. Given that Seattle does play Metro, that shouldn't be as hard as it might have been in the past.

prek said...

Sort of laughable that Burgess thinks the city is a bank. Seattle public schools provides free space to the city's prek program. The city's prek program is funded at $54M and will serve 585 students this year. (!) To date, the district has not done an audit of the city's prek program to determine if the district is fully reimbursed for all of it's services.

The city is growing by leaps and bounds. I'm not seeing that the city is providing space for schools. At a minimum, I would expect the city to pay for crossing guards. After all, didn't the city collect $14M for cameras and tickets in school zones.

Burgess is divisive. He is not seeking re-election. Hopefully relationships will improve once Burgess is gone.

highschoolmom said...

Melissa, just an oversight on my part... Wrestling is a winter sport, and 11 students were on the team this year. Also, regardless of the official status of Ultimate, it is a very popular sport whose participants face the same missed school time.

Anonymous said...

@ highschoolmom, if Ultimate isn't an official SPS sport, why do they need to miss as much school time? Are they then unexcused absences? I also assume they don't use the district's busses, so they should be free to get transportation closer to game time.

highschoolmom said...

They do have to drive themselves, but most of the games are still scheduled for 4 PM all over the city. Like Metro League, they play many private schools with earlier end times. They probably do not miss as much school as some of the other sports, though.

alex said...

This issue is potting parents against each other, and causing a lot of tension. Way to go SPS! No one could have seen this coming.

I know that the Council didn't make this mess, but I sure do hope they solve this problem.

If the district's goal is really to reduce the achievement gap (and this is one of the goals of the families & education levy for sure), I do not see how that is accomplished by starting tier 1/title I schools--where tardies are skyrocketing--even earlier next year. We need to tiers. This is crazy.

anotherhighschoolmom said...

I just want to quickly address a few things some commenters have posted:

1. The Joint Use Field Agreement which is negotiated by SPS and the City of Seattle dictates when games begin. Unfortunately it is not aligned with later start times. Schools can't determine later start times, without the city agreeing to extend the use of the fields.

2. Ultimate is a school sanctioned activity. It is not a WIAA sport. I believe all the high schools and most middle schools that offer sports, have ultimate teams.

3. The point parents of high school athletes are trying to make is if the premise behind changing bell times is to increase attendance, it is having the opposite affect on high school athletes because they are missing between 40-50 periods of class just for competition a season.

I don't oppose the two tier system. I don't oppose a change in bell times. What I do oppose is radically changing a system without analyzing all of the data and working with all communities to make a new system work. Mitigation in the form of additional buses to reduce the amount of missed class time and extended field use to accommodate later game times is an excellent start to alleviating the heavy burden high school athletes face with these changes.

anotherhighschoolmom

Working Voter said...

Part of the reason why students need to miss so much school to make it to sporting games is Seattle's terrible traffic and poor public transit infrastructure, making it next to impossible for students to get to the location of their games by public bus or car in a reasonable amount of time. Plus, no way a parent with a job with normal hours can leave work and drive to the location of their child's school, pick the kid up, drive them to their game. With traffic conditions as they are, that would be crazy. And part of the reason why some students are spending an hour on school buses (each way!) is not just the distance they have to travel, but also the amount of traffic the bus has to get through to make it to the destination. And the reason more kids can't walk to school is that 30% of the city doesn't have any sidewalks, even on arterials.

The city absolutely has a place in maintaining a livable city for families. We absolutely can have a city where families can have two working parents AND still manage to eat dinner together as a family even if they have elementary school age children. And we absolutely can have a city where teenagers have the opportunity to practice and develop athletic expertise and then compete against peers at other schools.

If teachers absolutely have to eat into school hours on Wednesdays to do their jobs, we've got a lot of time on Wednesdays for after school games and practices and rehearsals and training sessions. Let's have Game Wednesdays, that'll cut down on some of the afternoon periods being missed by high school students.

And let's put some of that school zone traffic camera revenue to work, minimizing the number of hours children have to commute to school in the dark and employing crossing guards to keep kids safe. Children don't vote, but having the kind of city that all kinds of families can thrive in, not just the wealthy ones with nannies can thrive in, benefits all Seattleites.

Two tiers!

Anonymous said...

Alex, do you have the raw data regarding the tardy calculations? I don't think the numbers you posted are supporting your claims.

~KMG365

alex said...

These are the numbers I posted:

Data obtained by a public record request from SPS for the first 4 months of this school year vs. last show that of the 52 tier 1 elementary schools:

* 23 of those tier 1 schools are title I schools (40% or more students receive free or reduced lunch)

· 96% of tier 1 schools (50/52) had increased tardies (Pct. Avg. Daily Tardies to Avg. Daily Students) in 2016 vs. 2015

· 44% of tier 1 schools (23/52) had an increase of over 50% in tardy students in the first four months of the 2016 school year vs. 2015

· 52% (12/23) of the schools that had an increase of 50% or more in tardy students were title I schools.

alex said...

Sorry, raw data is in an Excel file, which I cannot post here. Post your email & I will send you the file.

Anonymous said...

Some sports played by high school students are club sports - meaning that students and parents have to pay extra money for the kids to participate - no SPS funding for these kids. Those sports include ultimate, lacrosse, etc. However, students are held to the same standards of conduct, participation etc. as "regular" sports. It is simply a funding issue.

-NP

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The point parents of high school athletes are trying to make is if the premise behind changing bell times is to increase attendance, it is having the opposite affect on high school athletes because they are missing between 40-50 periods of class just for competition a season."

Nope, it's not for attendance. It's for academic outcomes. I think the district assumes that no matter the bell times, students will be in attendance.

As for going back over this, I am surprised that parents of athletes didn't rise up when the whole discussion - which goes back years - didn't chime in.

I will gently state that I would never see the district paying for more transportation just for athletes. The needs are too great for other issues.

I think Game Wednesdays is a great idea and the Board should be asked about it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Quite the interesting discussion at tonight's School Board meeting.

1) At one time, the district has 26 (!) start times. As President Peters wryly said, "So there's been some progress."

2) Peters, Geary and Blanford spoke the most with Blanford worried about if the district will have the money for the change to two tiers. He said he would vote no.

3) Peters asked if the City might use the school zone funds for bell times but Pegi McEvoy said the City already allocated that money for other uses for this year. Peters noted that it seemed that would have made sense, given the reason for the fines.

4) Geary gave a careful and nuanced explanation about the issue as a whole.

5) It was noted that the district has been mitigating effects to athletes by paying for charter buses to games. I did not know this was the case. I'll be asking how much that cost is. I guess I have to eat my previous comment about the district paying for transportation mitigation costs. I'm somewhat stunned but it's helpful to know the priorities in the district.

anotherNW said...

I find it interesting that during the discussion tonight everyone seemed in agreement that a 3:30 end time was so late for schools currently in the 3rd tier - but with the new two tier times high school will be getting out at 3:50pm. I really hope it they get the money from the City they will try to push that time back as much as possible. It's not just sports - academics/homework, sibling support and jobs too.

anotherhighschoolmom said...

Melissa -- "Nope, it's not for attendance. It's for academic outcomes. I think the district assumes that no matter the bell times, students will be in attendance."

Agree, but I think everyone agrees you can tie academic outcomes with attendance.

Also as a point of clarification, parents of athletes in SPS have been lobbying since last summer to help find a compromise so student athletes wouldn't be in a position of missing so much class time. Several news outlets have done stories to this affect. We were asked to see how this year went and work with SPS "while the bumps were smoothed out". We lobbied the City and the School District heavily to change the Joint Use Agreement to allow for later start times of games, but unfortunately, nothing changed. So, while you may not have been paying attention Melissa to parents of athletes working this issue, please rest assured it was happening.

I find it surprising and disappointing you are so anti-sports at the high school level Melissa. All we are asking for is some help for our athletes to not get squeezed in the mission to find a middle ground but unfortunately as many in these comments have demonstrated, it is very easy for others to just tell athletes to suck it up, you're not that important.

anotherhighschoolmom

Anonymous said...

@anotherhighschoolmom. I'm not anti-sports. I think sports are great for kids, but you can't have everything. High school can't say we want our kids to sleep late in the morning and we want them to start early enough that they can still play sports without missing classes. What about elementary? All they are getting is a raw deal.
Frustrated

Melissa Westbrook said...

anotherhighschoolmom, you mistake my comments for lack of support. I had two student athletes myself.

As for me paying attention, well, I'd invite anyone here to try to keep up as I do in so many directions. I apologize if I miss something but it is helpful to me when parents let me know of an effort being taken.

You did get mitigation and charter buses so it's not like the district did nothing and wasn't listening. Those student-athletes did get help.

I'm not saying athletics is not important - I'm saying that academics is the mission of the district and their most important job. I'd be willing to bet taxpayers would say the same.

Owler said...

anotherNW, tier 3 elementary schools currently get out at 3:45; next year the three-tier plan has the final bell at 3:55, and buses leaving at 4:05 (and being a third route, several of the buses are consistently late to leave, depart, and load). Elementary school kids are getting off buses at 5pm or later. It's painful, especially if you have siblings at a tier 1 and tier 3 school.

Pencils First! said...

I cannot believe the school district is paying for charter buses for students to attend sporting events while parents are buying pencils and paper and bandaids and scissors. I think sports and music and art are important for producing well rounded, healthy humans. I am completely in favor of students having access to sports and art and music. But a school district that can't pay for pencils to teach kids how to write should not be paying for charter buses to take students to frisbee games.

Ella said...

My tier three 7-year-old gets off her bus at 4:45 p.m. and wants a snack. She is a firm believer in the after school snack. But what do I give her? We're going to eat dinner in few minutes. Meanwhile, her tier one siblings have been home for two and a half hours. They always gets a snack, because there's hours until dinner. And it's not just the snack. The tier one kids have time for everything--time to play on the playground after school, time for afternoon playdates, time to go to the library or the grocery store with a parent, time to play board games with the grandparents, time to live. The tier three child not so much.

Anonymous said...

Ultimate (unisex, but not coed) and Lacrosse are both high school Varsity sports in SPS as of this year.

Another HSmom

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to which sports got charter buses. Boys football or boys basketball maybe? I can assure it is not frisbee or girls sports.

-NP

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure why sports events can't be evenings & weekends. Wednesdays early dismissal is a great idea. Practice can still be after school. I think that the schedule can change to accommodate the new start times. After all they were designed to accommodate the old start times.

I've wondered if more students would participate in intramural sports after school on site, where they could skip days when they have to work or have a big school project due, & participate on days when they have time. It would be more flexible around school hours. There could still be some school teams that travel, just fewer of them.

I also wonder if club & travel leagues are available in the city why do we also have serious teams associated with schools? Many students do both, so they already have a competitive athletic outlet, sometimes the travel leagues are more competitive than the school leagues anyway. Doesn't that leave room for schools to focus more on providing less competitive options for athletic pursuits that would require less travel to games?

-HS Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I just want to be clear that while some sports are played at schools, they are not listed as sports that SPS is supporting. That information is available at the Athletics page at the district website.

I am definitely going to ask questions about the charter buses. I had seen some at Roosevelt and frankly, I thought the RHS sports boosters had paid for them.

Anonymous said...

HS Parent -

This is speaking from a parent whose only high school student does not play sports and whose incoming high school student will only do one sport which is a no-cut sport....it's not just about getting your competitive outlet. Do you remember pep rallies from high school? Do you remember traveling across the state to see your school's basketball team compete at state for the first time in years even though you don't like basketball? Do you remember earning a letter, being recognized as a high achieving student athlete, being a leader/captain of a team and gathering some skills beyond what you would ever get just playing a club sport? Do you remember Nathan Hale and Garfield packing the house for a super competitive match up regular season game and how much great attention was paid to the Garfield band performing in the stands? High School sports is so much more than letting the competitive kids have an outlet and taking that away is taking something away from the whole school/not just the athletes.

As for bell times, 6:45 am is a ridiculous start time, 3:45 (my youngest's bell time this year) is a ridiculous end time, but 3:50 is a ridiculous end time for high school too. Also, for those saying you can't have it both ways (teens sleep in and have good bell times), not all parents were advocating for flip and though the teens I know like more sleep in the morning, most are more stressed out in the afternoons working with their much more demanding schedules and next year it will be 90 minutes less time in the afternoon than just 2 years prior.

I hate how this has pitted elementary parents against high school parents. The school district seems to be famous for that. As a parent of an elementary, middle, and high school parent, I see my elementary friends who don't have older kids and have no idea of the struggles of the older kids and vice versa.

NE Mom of 3

Anonymous said...

Games and Meets often can't occur earlier than 4 PM due to the judges and referees. In gymnastics, there are only so many judges to go around. Often there will be a meet at one high school at 4 PM and then a second meet at 7 PM at another high school. The judges have to go from one meet to the next. So when the athletic director schedules the gymnastics meets, they have to be aware of the number of judges available and make sure they can get from one high school to the next.

HP

Tia G said...

Isn't it sad that all the students in the city need to have 20 minutes extra of school every day except Wednesdays so that teachers can be successful professionals? I want teachers to be successful professionals, but I personally think it is really warped to make 53,000 students give up so much of their afternoons for it. I'm mad that the needs of families and children come in dead last in this school district. Who represents us? Who represents our needs?

Lynn said...

I agree. If this collaboration time is so important, it should have been scheduled after the end of the regular school day on Wednesdays. Sure other districts in the area have an early release one day a week - but I suspect they don't have our transportation challenges.

I suspect there won't be practices and/or competitions right after school on Wednesdays. Any coaches who are also teachers will be required to participate in the collaboration at their schools. There will be no after school enrichment classes at my child's elementary school on Wednesdays next year because the classrooms won't be available - apparently teachers are going to be 'collaborating' alone in their classrooms.

Anonymous said...

I'm very confused. I have an incoming 9th grader at Ingraham for fall who will definitely be playing sports. So will 2 tiers help mitigate what seems to be a ridiculous (and unethical in my mind) practice of having students routinely miss hours of class time in order to get to games? If so, how?

Thank you for any enlightenment you can offer, Melissa and others. Once again, there seems to be no well-thought-out or well-articulated implications on students and families for proposed policy changes.

--Concerned parent

BM Observer said...

Apparently Pegi McEvoy has data comparing class time missed by athletes from last year to this year. Many sports missed *less* class time this year than last, 2 sports were about the same, and 5 sports have kids that missed more time this year than last. The district chartered buses to mitigate this year; she has more ideas for solutions to continue to decrease the amount of class time missed for next year.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day we always missed school for FB games until varsity (All games at MS at night)Back then the fields for JV games were not lit like today, so we needed to play during daylight. No big deal and not a civil rights issue.

Geez

Anonymous said...

Moving to 2 tiers, while an improvement in that it gets rid of the awful Tier 3 for some schools, will essentially shift the Tier 3 time to MS/HS. The approved bell schedule for MS/HS, with 2 tiers, is 9:00 to 3:50, with arrival/departure at 8:45 and 4:00. Arrival/departure for ES will be 7:45 and 2:40.

If SPS was to flip back to original start times for MS/HS, Tier 1 would be 7:50 to 2:40 and Tier 2 ES could be 9:00 to 3:30.

-reflip

Anonymous said...

Re: INSANE Wednesday early releases for next year


Professional learning communities for teachers are vital and important. All families support teachers accessing meaningful professional development. But it should not come at a cost to our students or family life.

Many of us in our jobs often participate in continuing professional education and training, but it doesn't mean we make our clients and customers work around our schedules at their significant inconvenience.

I find it appalling. Teachers are professionals, and like attorneys, accountants, lawyers, programmers, engineers, etc., it's unclear why they don't schedule their professional ongoing training and collaboration in a way that does not interfere and impact children and families whom they serve.

The length of day for instruction needs to suit a child. You can't take a cake it's supposed to be baked at a certain temperature for a certain length of time and play around with those variables. You can't take a school day and make it extra long or really short and expect kids to be able to get the same useful learning experience as a specifically designed developmentally-appropriate length of day.

Children first

Melissa Westbrook said...

BM Observer, I heard McEvoy's testimony and will ask her about those solutions.

Anonymous said...

Children first,

I totally get what you're saying, in theory. In practice, I grew up in a district with an early release on Wednesdays (one hour early, elementary through high school) and everyone functioned just fine. Particularly in middle and high schools, Wednesdays were often, for example, days where a teacher might give a unit test, because it suited the shorter length of time. If given on another day, you'd have "free time" after students finished that was more or less useless. No, you wouldn't schedule a long lab on a Wednesday. But the point was, each individual class was shortened by a matter of minutes and it wasn't that big a difference (because the time spent in-between classes, and lunch, had to remain the same). Many districts across the country have been doing this for 30 years.

-Pollyanna

Anonymous said...

With a later start time this school year, already data has shown that the problem of poor attendance has actually increased for elementary schools students and the data on attendance for high school and middle schools has remained the same as previously when they started earlier.

In addition, there have been huge impacts to after school programs and sports programs for secondary students. At Title 1 schools where we count on helping students after school who are behind academically, this year we have to cut the amount of time we have them after school due to the later start and end time of school. The proposed change to starting and ending school even later for next year would force us to have to cut this important time with our students even down further!

As a parent, I will not be allowing my son to continue playing in high school sports next year, because with the later start time, he would have to miss 2 hours of school or more on a regular basis, just to attend away games. This is not acceptable because academics come first!

Anonymous said...

SPS needs to consider flipping MS/HS back to Tier 1. Negative impacts of the flip include:

-increased tardies (and less sleep) for ES students
-more late buses for MS/HS (do schools keep logs?)
-less time for afterschool tutoring
-less time for afterschool activities/sports/jobs

sleep deprived

Anonymous said...

@ sleep deprived, that's pretty biased. Couldn't all those same points be flipped for the other group of students?

In other words, SPS needs to NOT flip MS/HS back to Tier 1, retaining the later start time for teens and tweens. Positive impacts of this recent change include:

- increased sleep for MS and HS students (which, research suggests, has positive impacts on academic performance, accident prevention, mental and physical health, risky behaviors, etc.)
- fewer late buses for ES students
- more time for afterschool tutoring for ES students
- more time for afterschool activities and sports for ES students

flipside

Anonymous said...

There have always been trade offs for playing sports. For FB, training starts in August well before the start of the school year. Keeping up your grades even with the added practice schedule is required. The schools have no obligation to adjust anything to accommodate sports the committed athletes make the adjustment without whining about it.

Grow up

Anonymous said...

No HS needs to start 8:30 or later. If it starts earlier, kids sleep in class. Every study has shown that high schoolers need a later start.

HP

Anonymous said...

@flipside,

1) Are MS/HS students actually getting more sleep, or have they just shifted their bedtimes later?
2) Have there been fewer or more late buses, overall, this year over last? (and if the bus is on time, but fewer ES students are making it to the bus, what's the net impact?)
3) Many elementary tutoring programs rely on middle school and high school volunteers (Team Read, for example). If they are in school until 3:50, but elementary gets out over an hour earlier, who is doing the tutoring? And with such a late release, how many MS/HS students will be able to volunteer?
4) Do elementary students rely on paid jobs?

You can keep repeating "sleep science says..." but it's irresponsible to dismiss concerns about unintended consequences. Elementary students need sleep, too. The district should be collecting data and feedback, and asking if they've really made a change that's best for all students.

-need analysis

Anonymous said...

HS students (on average) have to travel longer distances than ES students. The new bell times are closer to rush hour times, any extra sleep time will be eaten by traffic for these students.

I reluctantly sent my request for the two tier system, not because it's a good solution, but because it's the "least worst" option.

And who is paying for those chartered buses??

Couldn't PD be done before school for MS and HS?


-Barf

Anonymous said...

I agree! There's so much more to it than Sports, which is what the focus has been in this stream. Enough time for after school tutoring and academic programs are vital in keeping our students progressing and closing the achievement gap!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would suggest that those who have concerns do the research on what the district and the taskforce considered before this passed. Also, do the research on what other districts around the country are doing who have later start times. Ask for that data yourself from the district.

That's what I would suggest.

Anonymous said...

Wait I thought the pop tax is going to close the achievement gap.

Dos peeps got to get their pieorites strate up.

Big Boo

Anonymous said...

Need analysis,

I don't have high school age children yet but the idea of "shifting bedtimes" made me chuckle. Back when I was in high school, school started at 7:20. I had a rigorous after-school schedule, and took AP classes. And still, I didn't go to sleep til at least 11PM. I simply wasn't tired til then. It was the same story for most of my friends. And we'd all sleep til noon on the weekends.

I didn't think much of it until all these sleep studies came out saying that that's normal for the circadian rhythms of teens. Now it makes perfect sense.

-Pollyanna

Anonymous said...

All of our Title I and other high-needs schools who benefit greatly by our academic programs for students after school which have shown to greatly reduce the academic achievement gap. These programs have already had to be reduced due to this year's later start time, and now the proposal is for even later start times?! It is not just Sports!

Anonymous said...

Why do they need to be shorter? Can't they just run later?

Anonymous said...


Question on Anonymous BM Observer's post:

Apparently Pegi McEvoy has data comparing class time missed by athletes from last year to this year. Many sports missed *less* class time this year than last, 2 sports were about the same, and 5 sports have kids that missed more time this year than last. The district chartered buses to mitigate this year; she has more ideas for solutions to continue to decrease the amount of class time missed for next year.

Anyone know where this data is? Sounds like she presented publicly somewhere ... Any to see that data? Or can anyone explain why there seems to be such disparate impacts depending on the specific sport?

--Concerned parent

alex said...

Update: 1) SPS did the data analysis. All I did was count. 2) my summary stats have now been reviewed by an accountant & a professor. I stand by my data as presented.

BM Observer said...

Pegi McEvoy (Assistant Superintendent of Operations) talked about the data at the board meeting last week. But to my knowledge she hasn't posted or released the data anywhere.

Anonymous said...

@Alex,

You said:

"The data show that this is very much an equity issue"
and
"Furthermore, there is a disproportionate impact at the title I schools"

but the only data you give that supports these statements is:

· 52% (12/23) of the schools that had an increase of 50% or more in tardy students were title I schools.

So, 52% title one schools vs. 48% non-title one schools? I wouldn't call that particularly disproportionate.

~KMG365

Anonymous said...

@KMG, it depends on what percent of schools receive Title 1 funding. Throwing out a random number of 20%, just for example: If 52% of the schools experiencing increased tardies were Title 1, but they only make up 20% of the schools, then the numbers would suggest they are disproportionately impacted. Another way to process and present the numbers would be to say, "Of Title 1 schools, [ ]% saw increased tardies, whereas only [ ]% of non-Title 1 schools saw increased tardies."

-numbers

Anonymous said...

From Alex's numbers, 44% of Tier 1 schools are classified as Title 1 (23/52). 96% of all Tier 1 schools logged increased tardies compared with last year (were all of those switched from Tier 2 to Tier 1?), and 44% of all Tier 1 schools had increased tardies of 50% or more. What would be helpful from a numbers perspective is to know raw number of tardies as a baseline. Schools with low numbers of tardies to start with will show a substantial %increase compared with those schools who had high numbers of tardies even before the switch.

Numbers aside, if the net effect is to loose a half hour of morning class time, to allow for late students to filter in, then it's impacting not just those students who are tardy, but even those who show up on time. That, to me, is the bigger problem. The elementary day has effectively been cut short by switching the schools to Tier 1. The district should also compare meal rates - compared to last year, what is the percent decrease in those receiving school provided breakfast?

-numbers

Anonymous said...

@numbers,

Yes, I understand, which is why I asked for the raw numbers from Alex in the first place. I don't think the point Alex was trying to make necessarily follows from the analysis of the data that was posted. Depending on the raw numbers, I think a stronger case can be made, but maybe not.

~KMG365