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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This Could Be an Interesting Board Meeting

The Times published an article today about the changing bell times. What I had thought before about sensing trouble between the Board and the Superintendent is growing after reading this article.

Again, we hear from parents:

"Many complain Goodloe-Johnson didn't give parents much voice in the matter.

"That really raises people's concerns about whether she considers parents to be partners," said Lisa Fitzhugh, a parent at TOPS, one of the K-8 schools."

The Transportation chief explains that K-8 elementary kids wouldn't have to get on the bus an hour earlier because the new start time would trim ride time.

"Bishop said many students in the K-8 schools wouldn't have to arrive at their bus stops an hour earlier than they do now, even though their schools would start an hour earlier. Greater efficiency of uniform start times would shorten their rides by about 15 to 20 minutes, he said."

Really? You promise,now.

So back to the Board.

"School Board President Michael DeBell says he has yet to see the district's analysis and is concerned about student safety."

What is up with that? Why does the Board have to wait so long for info? I can't speak for this Board but in the past, most Board members wait for staff analysis rather than go forward pro-actively and ask for information. So, for most of the Board members what they see tonight is the first they've seen of any real information.

But what did Michael De Bell say that really caught my eye and alerted my spidey sense?

"DeBell said he and Goodloe-Johnson disagree about whether the district needs to do more than inform parents about the proposed change. "That's her approach on this one," he said."

Red flag. Danger, Will Robinson!

So we have parents saying they don't feel Dr. Goodloe-Johnson is treating us as partners and we have the School Board President saying he "disagrees" with her on whether the district needs to do more with parents on this issue. That says to me that (1) he talked with her about why parents haven't been either involved in the process or at least better informed on the issue and (2) on this issue (which may be a signal for other issues), she thinks the district's interaction with parents has been enough.

Is there anyone here that would say that there has been any public engagement on this issue? Okay, how about proper notification? Did your school principal say anything? Parent newsletter or bulletin? When did this appear on the district's website? And, anyone out there think the district handled this right vis a vis parents?

Worrisome at the least. I'll be watching the meeting tonight with great interest. Because if we only hear token "parents need to be better informed/involved in big issues like this", then we all have to wonder what issue will bring the Board to bat for parents against Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's steamroller approach.

11 comments:

Central Mom said...

The district just announced that the board is now voting on the start time proposal tonight.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
html/localnews/2008881643_webstarttimes19.html

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, good and not good. Good because I think the Board heard from enough parents about this issue. However, the Board is just getting the analysis tonight. I just don't see why they couldn't take a week to actual see if the analysis is valid and call a special Board meeting to vote on it next week.

beansa said...

I don't know why, but I'm always suprised and saddened by the comments on Times (& even PI) Education stories. I should just stop reading.

Reading those comments does remind me to say thank you to all the contributers to this blog. Thank you all for your hard work, and for keeping me informed so that I don't become another person who sreams: Shut up and let the Super do her job!!!

SolvayGirl said...

I'm with you Beansa...most of the commentors to the papers don't have a clue about SPS—or, it seems, children, parenting and education in the 21st century general. If I read one more..."when I was a kid..." I think I'll scream.

beansa said...

I know - Maybe we should all go back to walking to school barefoot in the snow uphill both ways. :)

Beth Bakeman said...

Thanks, Mel, for this update.

And since K-8 schools are starting 1 1/4 hours earlier than they currently do, I can't imagine that kids won't have to be at the bus stop at least one hour earlier.

SP said...

For what it's worth, I just ran across this document on the New Student Assignment Plan home page, titled "Board Approved Framework for New Assignmant Plan" (page 2) concerning choices of staggered opening/closing schedules, saving transportation costs:

5. Clusters that combine several reference areas would be modified to:
• Continue to give families choice with transportation, but within a smaller
geographic area (fewer elementary schools in most clusters).
• Add the flexibility of staggered school opening and closing times as an additional choice element for families, with transportation provided within the cluster. This has an additional benefit of saving on transportation costs.

Interesting!

SP said...

By the way, there's a School Board work session meeting this afternoon, about the above referenced document "Board Approved Framework for New Assignment Plan" which includes the approved staggered starting times "choice element", saving transportation costs.

Meeting info. is posted:
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
4:00-5:30 p.m.
Student Assignment Plan Framework

Dorothy Neville said...

Thanks, Mel, for this update.

And since K-8 schools are starting 1 1/4 hours earlier than they currently do, I can't imagine that kids won't have to be at the bus stop at least one hour earlier.


LOL, of course! I can imagine it. Don't you see? With the cluster stops, the bus ride is waaay shorter, it's just going to take you 30 extra minutes to get your kids to the bus stop -because now you have to gather the kids in the car, drive to stop, park (competing with all the other cluster stop parents), get everyone and their lunches and instruments out of the car and down the block to the cluster stop. So from the district's perspective, transportation times are cut tremendously. However, on the other end, the commute between home and bus stop will be much more complex.

TechyMom said...

And lets not forget that the start times are also changing for the kids who DON'T take the bus. Will their commutes also be magically shortened?

Jet City mom said...

If buses are earlier- wouldn't traffic density be different as well.
Just this week I watched two seperate Seattle buses take about 10 minutes to go up our block.
It was garbage collection day- and with one bus headed east bound, one bus headed westbound, A recycling truck and a garbage pickup it was amusing.
The east bound bus didn't notice the garbage truck and the worker had to help the bus back up so the truck could continue.. I didn't know why the bus just didn't go around and come down the other way, like I would have done, but they sat there idling for a really long time ( I was working in my yard)