SPS to Close Two Hours Early

I am a little confused because the SPS website does not say this but the Times is reporting that SPS will close two hours early today.  I verified this at the district headquarters and it is true.


Annoyed parent said…
This seems truly inept to me. SPS announces they are starting two hours late and then, immediately after kids arrive at school, announce they'll be ending two hours early? If they had even been able to say even an hour earlier that they were going to do this, it would have allowed parents to keep their kids home instead of being at school for just two hours and having all the hassles of dealing last minute with unusually late and early pickups.
Josh Hayes said…
At my daughter's (north end) school, exactly zero of the buses made it in. Attendance was pretty darn sparse! I bet in southern parts of the city, there's no snow at all yet, right? It's probably pretty mystifying for some of the parents down there.
Elizabeth W said…
We arrived for two hour late start this morning and were turned away. Was there a brief "school closed" decision that was changed to early release?
lendlees said…
There are some schools (like APP) that have a lot of buses running and they need the afternoon drivers to do drop off.

Although if you drove in, you were told to take your kid back home.
Elizabeth W said…
Thanks, lendlees. Oh, would that the district actually communicate what they intend!
I'm doing an article about the district's response to this snow storm, and I'm looking to talk to parents about their experiences.

If you have a story you're comfortable sharing, please send me in an email at brosenthal@seattletimes.com. I really appreciate it.

-Brian M. Rosenthal
Education reporter | The Seattle Times
Patrick said…
We just got a call at 12:15 that schools are closing two hours early. That would mean they're closing at 12:30. Hello, SPS, we can NOT get there in 15 minutes even if we didn't have jobs and could leave immediately.

Can the school buses even get to their pickup zones without more warning than that?

Why did they open today at all?
Crownhill said…
Oh come on people - sheesh! I'm not sure the district should be held responsible for the way weather behaves in different parts of the city - even the weather experts are changing their minds about this one hourly! Give them a break for once - I see this as having tried to make a good choice for the safety of kids and having the weather outsmart that choice - if the situation had been the opposite, someone would complain about that!

Of course it's awkward, and I'm sure inconvenient for many but it's hardly the end of the world - nor does I think it warrants a Seattle Times "expose"

I know we like to make them the bad guys, but the people who work for the district are human like the rest of us and don't always make perfect choices - now and then, we can cut them some slack.

Crownhill (formerly posted as Someone)
Jet City mom said…
After reading how the schools were expected to be open as usual in Bellingham during their big snowstorm in 1950- I think that they need to make up their minds.
Surely it cost more money for the school district and for those parents who had to take off work or stay home- to open two hours late & close two hours early- than it would have been just to be closed in the first place.

BTW no snow in Ballard
Elizabeth W said…
Crownhill, I agree with you that this doesn't require an 'expose'. However, I do believe it does need attention -- not because of the decision the district made, which seems perfectly reasonable, given what they learned about conditions -- because of the district's typically ineffective and unclear way of communicating it.
Anonymous said…
Does this qualify as a day that will need to be made up? Specifically, will we not have the March 16th Professional Day off? I have wondered if going for even a couple hours means that the district doesn't have to reopen another day. Is there a policy on how many hours the kids have to go to school to "count" as a real school day?

SP said…
At 11:38am I received an email alert from the district about the 2-hr. early release this afternoon.
The kids at the high schools knew even earlier- they were told BEFORE their 11:00AM lunch break that school was closing after 3rd period so if they wanted to leave at 11am it was fine.

School just started at 10:00 am. I wonder what time the actual decision was made by the district for the early release and why it wasn't posted online earlier?

We did not receive the usual robo phone call for either the late arrival, nor for the early dismissal. What happens to the parents without email who are now used to counting on the robo phone calls?
Lori said…
I think that things were chaotic and moving quickly for SPS this morning. Lots of confusion, but ultimately, kids are safe and accounted for, right?

We knew at 11AM that school was "about to close" because that is what Transportation told us. Our bus should have come at 1040AM today, and when it didn't, I called for a status update. I was told to go home, that the bus would not be coming, and that schools were about to close. Now, other buses going to our school made it there, apparently, so it's weird that our route was shut down while others proceeded.

The confusing part is that Transportation was also telling families that kids currently on buses were going to be returned home right away rather than delivered to school, so that left some families wondering what to do/when to be at the stop etc. I'm not sure that happened; I think buses with kids ultimately took them to school.

The thing to watch for this afternoon will be whether or not our three-tier bus system can handle this latest wrinkle. Two hours late and two-hour early dismissal doesn't give much time to run 3 routes. If I had a kid at a third-tier school, I would be asking my school's front office to monitor bus arrival times and send out alerts just so families know how late the buses will be this afternoon.
CT said…
Could be worse. Shoreline decided to close schools just as the buses were arriving - heavy snow started falling after staff had already arrived. Evidently they just turned the buses around and sent them back.
Anonymous said…
I think it was an unusual situation, and unusual weather. Which means a bit of chaos. There is a lot to be annoyed with about SPS, but I am not going to put Seattle's weather on them. And our school handled it the best they could-- they made sure no child got on a bus or was released until an adult knew they were coming home 2 hours early.
-math not weather!
Maureen said…
wondering, from what I heard at my kid's school today, as long as they have lunch it counts as a school day and won't have to be made up.
Speechless said…
I heard something different, that they must be in school for at least three hours.
Is the 27th the first day for making up classes?
dj said…
How can it count as a school day when I was told when I arrived to drop off my kid that school would be closed and that I needed to take my child home? That makes no sense to me. I understand that there are practicalities that make it difficult for the district to manage today any better than it was managed -- that is fine -- but I do not get how this can count as a day of my kid's education if she wasn't permitted in the building.
Anonymous said…
I'm on Phinney Ridge and I've been driving around picking up kids, running errands. There is a bit of slush on the side roads, and the main roads are generally just wet. Nothing to cause traffic problems and it's getting better by the minute. Where in Seattle is there a snow problem that prompted the early dismissal? Or was it the fear of the unknown that...? (And, no, I don't have AWD)

Let it snow
Clarification: The article is hardly an "expose." Just an explainer about how the district makes its severe weather decisions and how that impacts parents.

Casting a wide net in the hopes of getting a variety of perspectives - positive and negative ("math not snow," I'd love to hear from you).

Again, I'm at brosenthal@seattletimes.com.

Thanks a lot,
Anonymous said…
Yes, someone please tell me where the snow is falling. None here on the ground in West Seattle, and none in the air. I would also love to know if this will end up being a day they have to make up or not.
Lori said…
Brian, our school did the same thing. My child's teacher emailed and called every family to make sure that someone knew about the early dismissal. She told families not to rush to school in bad weather and that she'd be keeping kids in her classroom until they were picked up/accounted for. Despite the chaos, individual schools are making it work.

And a big thank you to staff at L@L for going to this extra effort today!

(now, as to whether today counts as a school day or not - I have to agree with others that it shouldn't. The district terminated our bus service and told us to go home. That's a snow day. We were prepared to have our kid in school. Those who made it in were only there 2 hours, and if part of that was serving lunch, surely that can't count as a school day!)
Anonymous said…
From this teacher's perspective, I was impressed with how our building handled the abrupt turn around. Each teacher and staff member helped reach each family to make sure students got home and that parents and guardians knew they were coming home early. Families were gracious and flexible and students were cooperative - making it all go a bit more smoothly.

south end teacher
Speechless said…
From the SPS calendar:
Inclement Weather Days
The first inclement weather make‐up day is Jan. 27; 2nd, 3rd & 4th days added at year end; 5th day is Mar. 16.

But I can't find the official definition of what counts as a school day.

Anonymous said…
We made the call on Sunday night to bring our kids to their Grandma's house for Tuesday and Wednessday based on the weather forecast. Boy am I glad we over reacted!

Also, next Tuesday's half day will be handled similarly... Just too much work for such little instruction time.
Anonymous said…
Opps above was from L@L dad
Accidental Rube said…
Ugh. I must be the only idiot who, based on the late start, clear skies and bare roads, decided to get my flat tire replaced this morning (leaving my cell at home...ugh). With no announcement on the news (so I could see it on the dealership TV), I had no idea school was letting out early. And to make matters worse, my kid somehow didn't make it onto the bus *where she would have found the door open at home* It would have been a helluva lot easier for me to take her with me this morning than deal with the dirty looks I got for being incommunicado and late. It's not like I could just drag my car off the blocks! Sheesh.
Jet City mom said…
From state website- no hour requirement

Current: RCW 28A.150.030 (Effective until September 1, 2011)
A school day shall mean each day of the school year on which pupils enrolled in the common schools of a school district are engaged in educational activity planned by and under the direction of the school district staff, as directed by the administration and board of directors of the district.

New definition: RCW 28A.150.203 (Effective on September 1, 2011)
"School day" means each day of the school year on which pupils enrolled in the common schools of a school district are engaged in academic and career and technical instruction planned by and under the direction of the school.

Under either definition, full-day parent teacher conferences are not considered a school day toward the required 180 days because the statute provides that all pupils need to be engaged in educational activity (until September 1, 2011) or academic and career and technical instruction (after September 1, 2011).

A late start, early release, or half day for parent teacher conferences is considered a school day toward the required 180 days.

Districts planning full day parent teacher conferences within a 180-day school year must apply for a waiver to be in compliance with the Basic Education Act. For more information contact Sarah Rich at sarah.rich@k12.wa.us or 360-725-6311.
Anonymous said…
Apparently there's been significant snow in north Seattle even as we in central/south are dry. I think they were in a damned-if-they-do, damned-if-they-don't situation. I'd much rather see parents have to scramble than kids stuck on buses in the snow. Safety comes before convenience. On a day when the forecast is changing rapidly, the schools just have to roll with it, and so do we.

-still waiting for flakes
Lori said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mag mom said…
I drive from magnolia to greenlake (option school) for my daughter and I thought late start (4 hours instruction) wasn't worth the drive. So happy I made the decision when I got the early release email. No snow and clear skies in magnolia.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
I am on the same route Lori is for L@L--at a later stop at Bryant Elementary. Luckily another parent got a mail from Lori and let us know what was going on with the NE Seattle L@L buses. We actually told the Bryant front office what we had heard--they hadn't heard about delays or early dismissals yet.

We stood outside waiting as light snow fell for a little over a half an hour, but all of the kids were in good spirits. I knew we were one of the later stops, but we just got lucky that Lori passed on the information--no word directly from Transportation, but I am sure they were much busier than usual this morning. Several of us were hesitant to call Transportation directly as we had been told that any time you called about a particular route (in our case, #771) that the dispatcher needed to call the driver, the driver needed to find a safe place to pull over to take the call and it caused a lot of headaches.

But it would be great, Brian, to get clarification on what is the least disruptive way to get route-specific information--besides being lucky enough to get word from Lori!

I do think all of the schools were doing their best. Another parent told us her buses to downtown were really wacky as well (she was taking shuttles and ended up bailing and walking home) so I think NE Seattle might have been a tricky spot for all transportation today.

While we were there Bryant got word of the early dismissal so I signed my younger son out and we all got home safely. Last year we almost spun out going down 65th toward 25th when it was REALLY icy so all three of us were happy to be home safe and sound. :)

seattle citizen said…
Mag Mom wrote that she didn't bring her student to school. I wonder if the schools will be requiring excused absences for this day? Might be wise of parent/guardians to submit one, just in case...
ArchStanton said…
Much as I like to bash SPS, and Transportation, in particular; I think everyone was trying to adapt to rapidly changing forecasts today. Our private school started two hours late and then ended at 1:00 with an hour notice to pick up kids. I was grousing about the flip-flopping and short notice, but what can you do?

And yes, we did get a heavy snow shower in the north end around noon. It looked like snowmaggedon had arrived - but after an hour it stopped. I chained up for a bit to get around north of 90th, but south of 90th, you wouldn't have thought there had been any snow.
Patrick said…
I don't expect SPS to predict the weather. I would be tolerant of an unforecast bad weather situation that developed during the day. But I expect them to read the National Weather Service forecast for Seattle, which last night said to expect 1-3 inches during the day Tuesday, and close the schools for the day accordingly.
Anonymous said…
Brian, I would be willing to contact you and provide a nice "balance" for your article IF you promise never, ever to interview Robin Lake or Paul Hill again. Allowing them a mouthpiece for their destructive opinions is like interviewing the Taliban for their perspective on democracy.

Anonymous said…
We had snow in view ridge and seriously slippery hills. I think the real localness of some weather plus the cross city drives plus the need to make system wide decisions make the decision making difficult for the district.

wsnorth said…
Better safe than sorry, but jeez! Kids at our school were playing on the playground with their coats off as administration tried to execute an emergency snow plan. Ridiculous!!

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