School News from West Seattle

Our friends at the West Seattle blog have some good stories from West Seattle schools.

The first one is about school start times next year.  Apparently Sanislo Elementary is unhappy with its 9:35 am start time (along with Roxhill, Layfayette and Concord) and had a meeting with Steve Sundquist about it. 

The PTA co-president told Steve that their school would be starting a full hour later than it had just a couple of years ago. 

And the resulting end time – putting kids on buses home at 3:45 – would mean in winter, they would arrive home in the dark. “We don’t want second-graders walking home in the dark,” declared PTA co-president Gillian Allen-White. “That’s a huge part of what has us shaken about this … it’s put us in an untenable position.”

Steve explained the dire financial straits of the district and

Sundquist reminded the Sanislo group that when he was elected three and a half years ago, “we had a system … in which schools set their own bell times and the transportation system followed along. That was also part of the choice system, driving a huge, huge transportation expenditure.”

In the "and what are you doing about it" department:

Sundquist agreed with one concern voiced: The backwardness of middle/high schools getting the early start and elementary schools generally the late start, when the older/younger age groups’ body clocks tend to run the opposite way. Maybe in the future, he suggested, they would be able to align the school schedules more to those body clocks. That would require not just bus-schedule changes but also negotiations with Seattle Parks regarding athletic scheduling, Sundquist noted. 

No changing start times to match kids' body clocks even if they learn better if it means changing athletic schedules.  Heaven forbid!

And I have no idea what this means:

Changing the bus times might not be possible, Sundquist suggested, going on to wonder, “could something be worked out to take care of kids (dropped off early) without forcing people to pay for child care they can’t afford?” 

Gee, Steve, you mean like staff?  That got shot down fast.

Before Sundquist had to leave for his next meeting, someone asked pointedly, “So what are the chances of change?”

His reply: “I don’t know, because I haven’t seen the exact plan” – which schools are paired with Sanislo to arrive at the bus schedule that led to the 9:35 start time. 

There was also a great story about Denny/Sealth and their logistics in the fall when both schools are open and operating side-by-side.  

But in the Q/A portion of last night’s meeting, it was clear that parents are still wondering, and nervous about, what else will be shared, and how much the high-school and middle-school students will come into contact with each other; those were some of the main issues while the project was being planned, too.

Sealth principal John Boyd opened by stressing, “The thing I want people to understand is that this building was designed to house two separate populations, two autonomous schools. It was not designed to be one school mixed all together. There are separate facilities for Denny students developmentally appropriate to middle-school students, there are separate facilities for Chief Sealth students developmentally appropriate to high-school students.”

Denny principal Jeff Clark also pointed out something in the Student Assignment Plan that no other area has:

"...a pathway between schools: One group of elementaries feeds into Denny, which feeds into Sealth, while the other group feeds into Madison Middle School, which feeds into West Seattle High School.

Interestingly, even though Denny will have lockers, the principal doesn't plan on having the students use them.


We have 80 to 90 cameras” that can be consulted if something happens and they need to see who was involved.

(Interestingly the Operations Committee will be talking about a camera policy this week.)  I would be interested in how quickly they can lock-down the building.  That's a lot of building to get locked down quickly. 

Sealth should be at its 1200 seat capacity next year (though the district is saying 1100) and Denny is going to have 825, up from 775 (their capacity is 940).

They announced that Denny will start at 7:40 am and end at 2:10 pm; Chief Sealth will start at 8:30 am and end at 3 pm.


Po3 said…
Last year parents protested enmass against the 9:35-3:45 bell times. (I think it was actually 9:45)

This year, SPS has buried the change so deep that very few school communities have caught on.

Brilliant move....especially with Sundquist deflecting with "I haven’t seen the exact plan.” So no need to mobilize parents.

This will come up for vote shortly and will be passed 5-1 I would guess.
Anonymous said…
I'm guessing many parents will be blind-sided by the start time changes. When the public meeetings were held, the details were still unclear - which schools would be in which tier, etc.
Po3 said…
Here is the list of schools who will have 9:30 drop off and 3:45 pick up next year:



Dated 3/15/2011

Titled: Planned Arrival/Departure Times (not proposed)
Anonymous said…
The info I see has those schools as 9:15 drop-off (9:30 start time?) and 3:45 bus departure (3:40 end time?). Our school hasn't announced official bell times yet.

Pick-up and drop-off times are not the same as bell times.
Po3 said…
My mistake; should have been 9:15 drop off, meaning 9:30 start time and 3:45 pick up means 3:30 end time.

The start time could actually be later so that students who receive breakfast at school will have enough time to each and get to class.
Chris S. said…
Has anyone seen any actual numbers about the alleged transportation cost savings yet? Vetted by Meg?

It does seem like the saving would be substantial and convincing. That's why I would like to see them. Maybe the district just isn't together enough to track stuff?
Chris S. said…
OK, I just read the comments at WBS and got that question answered. Everyone, including Steve, is too busy to crunch numbers. However, this doesn't prevent anyone from presenting "estimated" cost savings from new stuff - maybe because they can just make that stuff up?

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