Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 14th School Board meeting

I'm at the School Board meeting and am impressed by the picketing and demonstration effort by the food service employees who are protesting the proposed change to middle and high school food service.

Here's the revised Start Time proposal that will be presented and voted on tonight:

The proposed changes would specify two start/dismissal times to maximize operational efficiency, provide more consistency and reduce transportation costs. The proposed changes being presented tonight are different from the original board motion, and reflect input from community and staff.

The proposed changes are:

Middle schools, high schools and most K-8 schools (Alternative School No. 1, Catharine Blaine, Broadview-Thomson, Jane Addams, Madrona, Orca, Pathfinder, and South Shore): 8:15 a.m. start, 2:45 p.m. dismissal

Elementary schools, plus K-8 schools that currently have bus routes that run 60 minutes or longer (e.g. Salmon Bay and TOPS): 9:30 a.m. start, 3:40 p.m. dismissal

Moving the start times from the original proposal (which was 8:00 and 9:15) and instead recommending start times of 8:15 and 9:30 will help ensure that young students do not need to wait for buses while it is still dark in the mornings. The proposal allows “tiering” of buses, which means that each bus will drive two routes in the morning (one secondary or K-8 followed by one elementary) and then do the same in the afternoon. With the current inconsistencies in start times, most buses can only drive one route in the a.m. and one in the p.m. In addition, many routes will be streamlined so that ride time will be reduced for many students. Currently, many routes serve two or more schools, which lengthens the total ride time. All K-8’s and many elementary and middle schools will have dedicated routes under the new system.

All indications are that it will pass.

Here are the staff presentations on deck for tonight:

Steve Sundquist brought up Charlie's request for a Spectrum program in West Seattle South and asked what the process should be for responding to these requests.

Dr. G-J claims that the lack of community engagement on the Bell Times issue was because closure process took up so much staff time. Said incorporating feedback from community in tonight's proposal.

I missed a bunch. Now Kennedy is talking about how principals will be allowed to make adjustments to start and end times. (Really? How much? Kennedy says within a 10 minute range and "just like we do today") And that principals would have flexibility around staff start and end times. (This seems to be in reaction to the SEA testimony this evening.)

More discussion/questions/presentation by staff that I missed while tucking children into bed.

Sundquist says intention next year is to come back and revisit sleep research and do a study next year. (Sorry...but this is so lame. They're making the decision tonight and then studying whether or not it is a good idea next year.)

Voting is so far unanimous tonight in support of all actions.

Prior to the vote on Transportation, opening up for final Board actions/questions. Martin-Morris spoke about the "greater good we are doing" for safety, the environment, etc.

Motion passed, with only Mary Bass opposing it.


TwinMom2003 said...

So the whole conversation about the difference in delivery time vs. the time school will start seems like a bit of a shell game.

Even if a school chooses to have a start time later than 8 am, if the bus still delivers the children to the school at 8 am how does that alter what time kids need to get up, out the door, and to catch the bus?

Beth Bakeman said...

Absolutely. It only potentially addresses some union teacher/staff contract issues.

But does nothing for kids and families.

Unknown said...

chow eats bass but i will still vote mas... Might not rhyme but who has the time...

TechyMom said...

OK, I'm probably going to get flamed for this, but I think they really did adjust the proposal based on community feedback.

I saw a lot of support on blogs for:
8:15 or 8:30 instead of 8:00
Later start for T. Marshall and Lowell
Later start for schools with long commutes

Middle and High school students will get an extra 30 minutes of sleep. This isn't all bad.

It does mean that Orca is off my list, or at least behind some NE schools we could drive to by 9:30. But, at least now I know, and I can turn in my list and be done with it.

I agree this should have been studied earlier. If they do study it now, there's a reasonable chance they'll change it again in a year or two. I think that probably would have happened with the new assignment plan anyway. I can live with this. I pisses me off far less than the closures, and seems more reversable.

Charlie Mas said...

I am delighted by the savings, and getting 49 buses off the road (for all of the social and evironmental benefits), and I don't mind the change in the bus times so much.

Here's what galls me: they acknowledged their failure to do the proper community engagement, but they commit to doing it right NEXT TIME.

Next time? Next Time? NEXT TIME?

This time IS next time. This time is last time's next time. When do they think that next time is coming? Do they think that next time is coming in September when Mr. Kennedy promises to start his Transportation Task Force? No!

Next time is right now! Next time is right now with all of the other projects and decisions they are currently working on for which they are failing to meet the community engagement standards. Next time is right now! Next time is happening all around us!

So he has already broken his promise to do it right next time. That promise was broken the moment he made it. That's how we know that it is insincere. That's how we know it is a lie. That's another example of how they are not trustworthy. That's why people don't trust them.

Charlie Mas said...

The Program Placement update was such a late addition to the agenda that it did not appear on the copies printed and left out for people coming to the meeting.

If I had known that program placement was going to be on the agenda I would have asked to be on the list so that I could have spoken to it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Techy, I'm glad this works for you. And every person here can decide if it works for their own family. (My son is thrilled with 8:15.)

Problem is, there are many other people out there for whom this will be problematic. Orca got driven off your own list by your own admission. How many other families will make that same decision and move a couple of K-8 to a point where they don't fill their buildings (and we know what comes after that)?

That's the problem but that's for people like Charlie, myself and Beth to work on. (And I say this all without self-importance but I gave up so long ago believing I could affect change for my children that I tend to look at things more from a district-wide view.) But I would ask that we all realize that just because it works for you, doesn't mean it works for everyone or is even the best outcome for now. To shrug and turn away means two things. One, the district gets the message that this treatment of parents is a-ok and two, next time something really concerns you, others might turn away.

Maureen said...

I was at the meeting. Beth did a great off the cuff testimony that touched on the major flaws of the process and communicated that AS#1, in particular, was really shafted by this proposal. Thank you Beth! (And it was nice to put a face to the blogosphere!)

I would prefer that the whole thing be put off until next year (or when the assignment plan finally sets), but given that the Board is all focused on saving $$th,eor,eti,cal (as Beth pointed out), I am (not happy) grateful (I guess) that at least we'll have time to do translations for our ESL families so they can switch schools before 3/31 if they have to.

anonymous said...

I agree with techymom. I'm actually OK with this proposal.

As the parent of MS and HS students the bell ringing at 8:15 is glorious compared to 7:45 as it has been up until now.

And as techymom said they took schools with long commutes off the list (Lowell, TOPS, Salmon Bay). I still think all K-8's should have remained on the elementary time, but that was the only part of the plan I took issue with. And, they have committed, for what that's worth, to doing a sleep study and revising as necessary next year

TechyMom said...

I should add that I also agree with Charlie and Melissa that the way work is done in this district is complete screwed up. This particular issue just wasn't the right hill to stand on.

momster said...

my family dodged a bullet with the salmon bay exemption - for which i'm beyond grateful.

the 9:30 start time for all of our kids makes problematic getting to work at a reasonable hour without before-school care, but i'll take it for the 6th grader to be able to get up at 8 instead of 6:30.

i hear what melissa, charlie and beth are sayingm though - nothing about this process (if you could call it a process) was right, from analysis to engagement to communication to always the bargaining about "next time".

i do take as a positive sign that michael debell went public with his disagreement with the sup't - I was starting to think that in their desire to work constructively with the sup't and not be "dysfunctional", they were 'going along to get along' too much.

i am also encouraged that there seems to have been a public-to-board-to-sup't-to-staff connection sufficient to push back the secondary start times from the original 8:00. 8:15 is not great for the HS that start at 8:30 - but it's better than 8:00.

and that they gave families some certainty before open enrollment closed.

or is this damning by faint praise?

momster said...

PS - thanks to Beth for once more blogging for those who couldn't be at the meeting or watch it on television. priceless -

sped_parent said...

Nobody had much to say about the EBD audit. Was this a publicized agenda item? Doesn't anyone think it odd that this audit is unavailable? I mean, where is it? It's one thing to get an outline, but why not the whole thing? Also, the outline was simply stuff that's commom knowledge. EG. Most of the kids are black. Isn't that why there was an audit in the first place? So, the audit overview is simply a rehash of the reason for having the audit? Also, the recommendation is "response to intervention" and "training"? Weren't we doing that already? Is this thing going to improve? Does anybody care? If not, why is it suddenly on a board meeting discussion? And why is it in with "start times"?

Beth Bakeman said...

The EBD audit was not a publicized agenda item. Like program placement, it was slipped in at the last minute, preventing people who would have wanted to testify from signing up.

Beth Bakeman said...

I gave kudos to the Board for voting on this before the end of Open Enrollment. That was the right thing to do.

I'm also glad they removed the language about buying your own exemption from the start time.

I'm happy for the Salmon Bay and TOPS families, but I'm guessing that when the District restricts TOPS and Salmon Bay enrollment to only two clusters (which is almost definitely coming with the new assignment plan), you can expect to see your start times shift to match the rest of the K-8s in the name of saving money.

And while I also agree it's great that Board and staff made some adjustments to the original plan, it's probably not much comfort to Blaine families whose longest bus routes (as listed on the slide deck) are only 7 minutes shorter than the Salmon Bay ones. Or the AS#1 families whose bus routes are not even listed since they are theoretical for next year.

The staff and Board self-congratulations about making the proposal so much better and safer by adjusting start times by 15 minutes and dropping two schools from the list was a bit hard to take.

Also, in this new environment in which data rules, we have to be very careful and skeptical about the data. The bus routes listed were not average bus times for the K-8s, or an average of the 5 longest times, or anything statistically meaningful like that. Instead, they were a "Sample of the longest bus routes." What exactly did that mean? That they picked the routes they wanted to show for their own reasons?

Also, for anyone that didn't hear my testimony, one of the things that really bugs me about this change (besides the lack of communication and adequate data analysis) is that the district chooses to treat K-8s like elementary schools many times when it saves them money (like during budgeting/staff allocation) but then treats K-8s like middle schools when that is convenient and save them money as well (like on this transportation policy). I'd really like to see some signs of more solid district support and understanding of K-8s.

Finally, even though I'm pleased that a vote was made last night before the end of Open Enrollment, this type of quick, badly run process lends itself to changes happen that no one notices.

I didn't notice until late last night that this policy does away with providing bus service to middle school students to a "designated out of region school for which they are integration positive." This out-of-cluster integration positive busing was one of the few leftover pieces from Seattle's earlier attempts to combat racial segregation of our schools. And it's been dropped with no public discussion that I'm aware of.

anonymous said...

Honestly, I really don't see the 8:15A start times as being such a huge issue for the K-8s? Elementary school students generally go to bed earlier and wake up earlier that their older MS and HS counterparts, so I don't see it as being such a big deal for elementary students. I think if anything, we should be fighting to get MS and HS students a later start. They are the groups that really NEED the later start time. And with the exception of TOPS, Salmon Bay, Lowell, and TM, the elementary and K-8's are regional, one or two cluster draw schools so bus times shouldn't be much longer than regular elementary routes. Just for the record my kids bus takes 55 minutes to get to Bryant, which is in our cluster and only 7 minutes away from our house. Long bus routes are not a k-8 issue, they are a district wide transportation issue, that should be addressed, but separately.

momster said...

beth, i can only hope that by the time salmon bay and tops lose the longer rides, the district will have convened the vaunted task force and come up with a data-based, rational proposal.

we should pressure the board to pressure the transportation staff to put up on the website the cost calculation spreadsheets i know they have - just like tracy libros et al in enrollment planning put up their data.

or someone could make a foia request for it. bloggers?

southmom said...

Well, I'm a working mother and my child goes to an elementary school that will now start at 9:30 a.m. - like most elementary students in the city. That is a BIG problem for us. It's also a problem for her after-school sports and others.

southmom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Moose said...

Beth said "I didn't notice until late last night that this policy does away with providing bus service to middle school students to a 'designated out of region school for which they are integration positive.' This out-of-cluster integration positive busing was one of the few leftover pieces from Seattle's earlier attempts to combat racial segregation of our schools. And it's been dropped with no public discussion that I'm aware of."

Beth or others -- can you decode this for me? Does this mean that transportation to schools like Hamilton and McClure (which now have guaranteed out of cluster yellow bus service) is going away next year?! Like Beth, I am amazed that a change like that is being slipped in with so little notice. But then again, I don't know why anything surprises me any more...sigh.

Unknown said...

I'm a little jealous of the early schedule, and would love to send my morning-person kindergartener off at 8:15 and get him back with plenty of daylight left next year.

I don't think I'll choose Jane Addams because of distance, but it will be in the back of my head if our other choices don't work out.

I also wish the elementary and secondary times were flipped. I feel badly for the people who have gotten burned by this change at the last minute.

seattle citizen said...

Jamie, I tend to agree with you about flipping the elementary and secondary...I'm no expert, my it seems to me that at 8:00 the littler ones are up and bouncing off the walls, while the older kids are burying their heads under their pillows.
Is this observation inaccurate?

WV: "Clatati" Barada Nikto?

anonymous said...

Hamilton still has busing from SE Seattle, according to the enrollment guide, and according to the Principal who led the tour yesterday.

anonymous said...

Seattle Citizen and Jamie, I completely agree. My elementary age kids were/are always up by 7ish completely on their own, but my soon to be high school son stays up later at night now, and really needs the extra sleep in the morning. I think the earlier start time is appropriate for elementary age kids with the later start for MS and HS kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Beth, you are right about how the district choose to view K-8s. My guess is that they just don't know how they really want to view them so they look either through the elementary or middle school lens rather than as a school.

Chris Jackins did make an interesting observation that I hadn't thought of until he said it. One of the big issues with Denny/Sealth was middle and high school kids mixing together too much and it was written in some District document that they couldn't have the same start time. Whoops!

Reading the Times article today I take it that middle/high schools all have to start by 8:15 but principals can start up to 10 minutes earlier. I haven't finished viewing the Board meeting so I don't know if the Times got this right. Whether that means all the high schools will have started by 8:15 is unclear to me.

Is this what you understand, Beth?

dan dempsey said...

Sundquist says:
intention next year is to come back and revisit sleep research and do a study next year. (Sorry...but this is so lame. They're making the decision tonight and then studying whether or not it is a good idea next year.)

The research is all done. It takes little time to look at it. What it shows is that the Elementary should be at 8AM and High School later. Why not just say that high school atfernoon sports are a priority and that we need HS to start early because of this.

This was true in the daylight time schedule of old. Now with daylight time beginning in Early March instead of April and daylight time extended in the fall, it seems high schools could start later.

This would require a thoughtful approach to start times that centered on academic improvement and used the widely available research. Instead this appears to be act now and think later (if ever).

dan dempsey said...

Dr. G-J claims that the lack of community engagement on the Bell Times issue was because closure process took up so much staff time.

Is this really an adequate explanation for lack of public input?

Will there be any community engagement in regard to the high school math recommendation of "Discovering Algebra" etc.?

Or will the following the process be considered sufficient engagement? That would be the process of stacking the adoption committee with persons apparently unable to read either the State HS math Standards, The National Math Advisory Panel recommendations, and seemingly unaware of the direction being taken by the Seattle Transition Math Project in its effort to improve the disaster that occurs when SPS high grads meet the College Math placement test.

Community engagement beyond what has happened thus far is definitely needed.

Megan Mc said...

Thanks, to Beth for having AS#1's back and looking out for all schools.

It seems like the K-8's might want to organize to have a separate school director. Having Ruth Medsger, who is really a middle school specialist, in charge of K-8's isn't working.

WV: aingst ( angst and against)

Sahila said...

Yes, Beth, I wanted to thank you too, for speaking up for AS#1... I called out thank you when you were finished but didnt come to find you to thank you in person... apologies... and it was good to get a (fleeting) look at the person behind the name...

Steve said...
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Steve said...
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Steve said...

It seems the bell time issue was primarily focused on creating efficiencies in bus transportation, but what percent of total SPS students take the bus? I'm assuming that at least a large percentage of kids get dropped off by the parents (judging by my son's school), and for elementary schools, the later start time means a lot of parents being late for work. Or worse, parents who don't have any schedule flexibility with their work will have to find another option if the bus doesn't work for them. If you tallied the lost productivity of thousands of parents who are now arriving at work after 9:30 each morning, I'm betting it gets pretty close to the $2.2 million the district saves. Classic "shifting of the burden."

I guess it's not really the responsibility of the school to map to the working patterns of parents, but I wonder if this was taken into consideration at all? Anyone know how many students take the bus vs. find other transportation (car, walk, bike)? The Transportation portion of the SPS web site is devoid of useful information and what's there seems out of date (a lot of stuff from 2006-2007).

I think I'll go to the next board meeting. It was surreal watching it on television, and I'm sure it's more bizarre in person.

Anonymous said...

Charlie said: "I am delighted by the savings, and getting 49 buses off the road (for all of the social and evironmental benefits), and I don't mind the change in the bus times so much."

I too would be happy to have a bunch of buses off the road, but have you seen any publicly available data that explains exactly how the district can lose 49 (!) buses with this plan? I'm not saying they can't, but isn't that more than 1 bus for every 2 schools? It seems unrealistic - OR there's something more than uniform start times afoot.

As Beth and Moose noted, it appears that integration positive transportation from S/SE to Hamilton and McClure will be gone. But the enrollment guide and principals don't know it yet. Is it NOT set to happen in 09-10? Someone needs to answer these questions, and very soon!

Here's another thing to consider. According Appendix H from the closure documents, there are about 260 kids bussing up to Hamilton from S/SE. Assuming (rough guessing, please correct me) 26 kids/bus, this alone could account for 10 of the 49 bus savings! And I just looked up McClure, there's another 130 kids there, so maybe 5 more buses. If this is accurate, almost 1/3 of the transportation savings could be due to changes that have nothing to do with start times at all!

Danny K said...

I'm getting weary of this practice of instituting great big changes with minimal time for discussion -- in the middle of the enrollment period, no less.

It just seems like a disorganized process where power players (like SEA) can get heard but the public is largely frozen out.

I like the quote from today's story in the Times:

"Goodloe-Johnson said the adjustments reflected feedback from families, although she acknowledged the district didn't do a good job soliciting it."

It's beyond satire.

anonymous said...

Danny K and others where are you getting the information that S/SE transportation to McClure and Hamilton is being discontinued? I saw the meeting last night, but don't remember this being addressed. Did I miss something?

The enrollment guide clearly shows that transportation WILL be provided from S/SE to Hamilton and McClure this year. Can the district change this so late in the game? I mean, many families have already applied and think they have transportation.

Does anyone have any credible, verifiable information about this, or is this all conjecture at this point?


SolvayGirl said...

Personally...I don't see how the District can make any claims about the number of buses needed until they see who applies for bus service next year and where they come from/go to.

Years back our elementary principal was concerned because many children who lived within walking distance were busing to other similar (and sometimes less successful) schools within the neighborhood. He made the conjecture that some families used the school bus as a free form of "before/after school child care."

That makes sense...you can put you kid on a bus at 8 am and head off to work for an 8:30 job, or you can walk your kid to school for an 8:45 drop-off and be late for work. Ditto for afternoons. If a family has financial issues, this could be a real lifesaver.

So...with that logic and the new start/end times, some people may switch schools solely based on when they can turn their child over to the care of the school district.

Until the enrollment period is over, I would think it will be difficult for the District to say exactly what the bus routes will be in Fall 2009.

anonymous said...

OK so here are the transportation exceptions printed in the 2009/10 secondary enrollment guide.

• Students in the BEACON HILL, KIMBALL, and JOHN MUIR reference areas receive transportation to MERCER if assigned – no assignment priority.
• APP students receive transportation to HAMILTON from the North, Northeast, Northwest and Queen Anne/Magnolia Elementary Clusters; and
transportation to WASHINGTON from the Central, South, Southeast, West Seattle North and West Seattle South Elementary Clusters. See page 18
for more information about tiebreakers for APP and Spectrum students.
• Students in the Southeast Middle School Region receive transportation to HAMILTON and MCCLURE if assigned – no assignment priority.
• Students in the Northeast and Northwest Middle School Regions receive transportation to AKI KUROSE and MERCER if integration positive. The
“integration tiebreaker” does not apply for assignments, but the designated out-of-region integration option is still valid for transportation purposes.
* Students must live in the reference area for Broadview-Thomson, Catharine Blaine, or Madrona to receive this assignment priority for grades 6-8.

So if I'm interpreting this right S/SE students do get transportation to McClure and Hamilton but it is not designated as "integration positive". All students who request this transportation get it, regardless of their race.

Students in the NE and NW get transportation to AKI and Mercer but only***IF***they are integration positive.

Note there is no integration positive stipulation noted for Hamilton or Mcclure.

So could the integration positive transportation being discontinued only be the NE/NW to Aki and Mercer?

Sahila said...

I'm a little confused... I had a very short conversation with a teacher at AS#1 about integration positive busing, but being new to the US and Seattle, didnt understand its relevance/context...

So I 'googled' it and found out what it was, as well as the Supreme Court's 2006(?) ruling that it was not legal for SPS to use 'integration positive' as a mechanism for assigning kids to schools...

So far, havent come across anything else showing that ruling was overturned...

So, if its not legal, why is it happening still and on into 2009/10 and why is it an element of busing/transportation costs????

If I've got this wrong, would love someone to explain it to me....

Anonymous said...


The Supreme Court case was about school assignments and a racial tie-breaker used to balance out (or try to) the populations of Seattle schools. The case concerned only high school assignments (if you were of a minority population in either direction, you could be assigned to a school with a small number of that population in case of over-enrollment).

While the case was being decided, the district stopped using this tie-breaker for all schools, and does not use it any longer at any grade.

Providing or not providing bus service (this was NOT NOT NOT in anyway forced busing), was not part of the suit, as far as I know. As with any school choices, some kids got bus service, some did not, depending on clusters and all the other factors the district uses.

I'm sure someone either has or will try to sue over this component of bus service any day now.

anonymous said...

Sahila, it is a bit confusing. I think, and I might be wrong (someone please correct me if I am) that the district can no longer use "integration positive" as a tie breaker for enrollment to school - as they did pre the 2006 ruling. In other words a student would not have an advantage to get assignment to a school based on their race.

Transportation is different than enrollment. While the ruling specified that the district can't use "integration positive" for assignment, it did not specify that they couldn't use it for other services. I can't imagine that there are many NE/NW families that are sending their kids to AKI and Mercer for middle school. My guess is you could count them on one hand. So if they are cutting this particular transportation service, I can't imaging it will affect many students at all.

BTW there are many of these integration positive transportation offerings in elementary for instance kids living in the SE cluster can get a bus to Adams, BF Day or Greenlake.

Perhaps AS1 could ask to be an integration positive school?

anonymous said...

Hmmm, I was only thinking in terms of middle school as that is where my mind is at lately. However thinking in terms of elementary school students if the district cuts integration positive transportation it will affect many children. Check out the transportation section in the elementary guide.

Could this be part of the 49 bus figure?

Stu said...

Although I seriously doubt they can get 49 buses off the road, in terms of gas and carbon footprint, it doesn't really matter how many buses service the routes. Whether two buses service an area or one bus services it twice, it's the same amount of driving, the same amount of gas, the same carbon footprint. The only difference is they can offer the driver a longer shift.
The board was so excited by the whole "green" aspect and were basically duped! There's nothing inherently "green" about this proposal unless they cut out transportation for some students...which has nothing to do with start times. (Changing to the community stops would be the same savings regardless of start times too.)

You just know that transportation must have been thrilled to see this pushed through quickly. They must know by now that the board rarely probes beneath the surface. They dazzled them with the "49 buses" thing and that was just enough.

So. Who wants to bet they'll forget to study it next year 'cause of time constraints?


AutismMom said...

Gee. The continuance of busing from the south end to McClure, Hamilton and elsewhere really is ridiculous if we're trying to save busing costs and move back to neighborhood schools. I seriously doubt that the integration positive busing thing has been challenged in court. And clearly, busing from the south end to the white(r) neighborhoods has exactly 1 intent, racial balance. True... it isn't really, exactly the same as "integration positive" school assignment.... but it smells pretty similar, splitting hairs.

anonymous said...

It's really not splitting hairs autismom. The lawsuit came up because kids of color had an integration tie breaker and were being assigned to schools outside of their neighborhoods BEFORE kids that lived in the neighborhoods were assigned. For popular schools with large waitlists like Ballard, for every minority kid that got in using the "integration" tie breaker, a neighborhood kid was pushed out. The lawsuit ruling was that minority kids couldn't have that advantage anymore.

Minority kids can still apply for certain schools outside of their neighborhoods with transportation provided but they do not get the "integration" tie breaker. This means that they can't get into those popular schools anymore, as they fill with the neighborhood kids that live closest to the buildings. The schools they have access to with transportation are the schools that have excess space to accomodate them.

I'm not saying that I agree or disagree with the lawsuit, with integration positive, or anything else, I'm just saying that it's not splitting hairs at all.

anonymous said...

And, I thought the exact same thing as Stu. When I heard Harium mention that this was so much better for our carbon print, emissions, etc., I scratched my head in disbelief.


How is it saving anything?

Whether you use one or two buses, you use the same amount of gas, drive the same amount of miles, serve the same amount of kids, etc.

The only benefit is that they can retain drivers longer if the provide them more hours.

I'm baffled.

Charlie Mas said...

The environmental savings comes from shortening deadhead trips and reducing the number of deadhead trips to and from the bus base in Interbay.

A bus running a single route runs empty to the start of the route, runs the route, and then runs empty back to the base at the end of the route - twice a day.

A bus running two routes runs empty to the start of the first route, then runs empty to the start of the second route - a location close to the end of the first route, then runs the second route and finally runs empty back to the base - twice a day.

A really surprising number of students get out-of-cluster or out-of-region yellow bus transportation. The two largest contributors to these long trips are 1) Special education students bussed to programs outside their cluster and 2) Alternative schools with multi-cluster draws.

The out-of-cluster trips for Special Education students should be reduced as the District transitions from programs to services and starts placing students with IEPs closer to home.

We have already seen some reduction of reference area for alternative schools and we will probably see them shrink more.

A third contributor, of course, is the yellow bus transportation provided to southeast region middle school students to McClure and Hamilton. The trips to Hamilton will be severely diminished, if not end completely, when Hamilton fills up with north-end students. I'm not sure of the future of the yellow bus transportation to McClure. It could end if Queen Anne and Magnolia families start to choose McClure in higher numbers. Or it could end just to save the District money. Or it could end if the District ever decides to declare the Southeast Initiative a success and end this transportation opportunity which is nothing but an acknowledgement by the District that the Southeast Region middle schools, Mercer and Aki Kurose, are not very good.

anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying Charlie. I had no idea the buses dead head to Interbay between routes. My sons bus had two back to back routes. It had a middle school route and then immediately started the Salmon Bay route. I had no idea that some/most buses deadhead in between routes. In this case, of course, there would be great savings both in our carbon print and in the budget.

Megan Mc said...

Does anyone know if transportation is double counting the savings from eliminating all city transportation for AAA, AS#1, and Summit? Those savings were factored into the closure plan and were supposed to help account for the $3.6 million in savings there. I worry that the transportation department is double counting those savings in this new package.

AutismMom said...

For popular schools with large waitlists like Ballard, for every minority kid that got in using the "integration" tie breaker, a neighborhood kid was pushed out.

You could argue that busing students from the S and SE, especially in times of financial crisis, is really meant to "racially integrate" Addams, Hamilton, and McClure.

That practice denies that same opportunity to attend Addams, Hamilton and McClure to people who don't live in the S and SE... and live in areas with less racial diversity. It also wastes money on busing that could be used for other services. Therefore, this "integration positive" busing initiative... denies other people services (because of the money spent busing instead of services), and it denies people actual attendance at Addams, McClure and Hamilton (because lots of people can't attend if there's no bus).

I don't really agree with the Supreme Court's decision, although I don't have a strong opinion. But given that it went the way it did, it would seem that "integration positive" busing or anything that has the same intent, would also be contrary to the decision if it were ever challenged.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What the talk is now is using socio-economic as a "diversity" tiebreaker. Whether it will ever be used in SPS is another question.

AutismMom said...

Yeah. I'm sure the Ballard High area residents who brought the original suit, including QA-Magnolia with no high school at all, will be equally thrilled to get bumped for socio-economic reasons.

Sahila said...

I'm wondering how accurate are the Transportation savings projected in this change to bus/bell times?

Some transportation savings were incorporated into the Closure Plan... see this PDF of Appendix F to the Capacity Management (Closure) Plan:


It states Summit/AS#1 busing costs almost half a million dollars/year and the capacity management plan closed Summit and cut AS#1's busing to only serve the N and NE clusters....

Is the District counting the same figures twice in its calculations? Are those transportation savings - almost a quarter of the $2.2M they say they are saving with these new measures - really coming from the earlier closure plan?