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Friday, May 11, 2012

KUOW just reported that the district has canned the new transportation plan.  They will use the old plan but now with 45-minute trips as opposed to the current 25-minute trips.  This will save $500k, not $1M so the district will have to figure out how to close that gap.

The reason given is the huge outcry of unhappiness from parents including the 2,000 signatures to the petition.

Parent power.  It's a good thing.

Partial from SPS press release:

This spring we worked to develop a balanced budget for the 2012-13 school year, with a goal of keeping budget cuts away from the classroom.  To that end, the School Board requested an analysis of options that could generate more savings from transportation.  We re-structured the Transportation Office and asked staff to both continue researching the adopted standards and also to research new cost-saving options for Board review.  That research resulted in proposed modified standards for 2012-13, which were introduced to the School Board on May 2.  The timeline for this research was very short, and community engagement is occurring during the two weeks between introduction and the Board taking action.  We have received numerous comments about this plan, and have used the feedback in our continued analysis.

Since introduction of the proposed new standards, staff has been continuing to research the various options with the twin goals of realizing cost savings and being responsive to community feedback.  This additional research will result in a new proposal to the School Board on May 16.  The new proposal will return to the current 2011-12 transportation plan (and therefore minimal impact to current bell times) and a return to the 2010 ride times of up to 45 minutes.   This new option is expected to save the district between $250,000-$500,000.  While other options might have saved more money, the proposed new option is responsive to the feedback and will impact the students, schools and families the least.  Transportation staff are continuing to refine the details of the new proposal, and more information will be provided to the Board and public prior to May 16. 

In order to have a more thorough analysis of options for the 2013-14 and beyond transportation standards, the district has identified a task force comprised of state and local technical transportation experts to begin making recommendations for consideration.  This task force will begin in May and have recommendations for the Superintendent to review in September, prior to the Open Enrollment period.  We look forward to their recommendations and future discussions on this important topic and want to thank the school communities and parents that provided input into our budgeting process.

"..community engagement is occurring during the two weeks between introduction and the Board taking action.  "

It only occurred because people spoke up.  I do not believe they would have had any real outreach to parents if it wasn't for the outcry.   I feel like many of you do - the district should truly admit the mistake because otherwise, it's revisionist history.

21 comments:

mirmac1 said...

Show me the math. How do they have 45 min trips with three tiers? If they are going to have two tiers, that will mean more buses and higher costs than this year. If they go two tiers, then they are consolidating routes. Should be a wash, but would like to see their proposal on the napkin.

SP said...

SPS news release's only reference to feedback: "We have received numerous comments about this plan, and have used the feedback in our continued analysis."

How many is "numerous"? (thousands?)

mirmac1 said...

Melissa tweets:

"Parents win. District cans trans plan."

nice alliteration!

cascade said...

Uh, side point: why are u getting your news from KUOW? Apparently the district sent out a media alert - which included KUOW and West Seattle Blog. Did you and Charlie not get that alert? Are they trying to make you "non media" again like they tried to do under Goodloe-Johnson and the old communications department.

Anonymous said...

Melissa - you and Charlie get a lot of credit for helping to shine the light on this issue. Your blog was where I learned of the District's proposed change - prompting me to email the board, the principal at my child's school, and the PTA at our school. If it wasn't for your blog, I don't know if the public would have been aware of this issue until it was too late. Thank you.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Melissa -- what the district is saying is more nuanced. They are saying there will be "minimal impact(s) to bell times.". That statement, combined with the statement that the three tiers of buses will move to 45 minute rides indicates that the already too late 9:30 starts for tier 3 will move later -- potentially even 40 minutes later. It is great tier 1 won't start earlier. Let's not give up the fight and make sure no school starts after 9:30. Please keep an eye on tier 3 start times. 9:30 is already wreaking havoc on our families. Delaying start times by even an additional 15 or 20 minutes would be a huge problem for tier 3. We need to see actual start times posted.
-- No school starts after 9:30
--

Patrick said...

I agree with what No School Starts After 9:30 said. This announcement doesn't add up on the face of it. If kids are on buses for 45 minutes instead of 25, some bell times have to change. So which ones, and by how much?

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

I did receive the update but I was out and about and that's why I heard it on KUOW.

No school starts, you're probably right. It was reported as staying the same but now that I read the media release, it appears there might be some tweaking. I'll try to find out when the actual plan is to be released. This is important as to whether people want to sign up on Monday to speak at the Board meeting on Wednesday.

dj said...

I sent a flurry of emails to transportation, the super, Kay S-B, etc. yesterday. I am now waiting for someone to explain if the 45-minute bus ride means an even-later-than-9:30 bell time for my oldest kid's school, since the theme of my email was "there is already a pack of kids waiting unsupervised at my school's gate at 9:10, and you can be sure things will get worse if you push the bell time back." In other words, I'm not celebrating yet.

Anonymous said...

My post from the Open Fri thread in which Mirmac says Varner has tweeted that Banda (follow all that?) is flying up for the board mtg....

@Mirmac: Clearly Banda needs to understand in person what the current staff and board has done (not) to steward this district in the past week.

Whoever was on the list to testify at the meeting, don't let this 'soothe the beasts' transportation announcement today dissuade you from still doing so. The full story of the depth of the district's hideous operations and parent relationships needs to demonstrated.

And personally, I don't want to see the board, esp. Pres DeBell, to get any sort of a 'pass' in hiding the public's anger right now. They kept the public out of the superintendent interview process. They set this transportation disaster into motion and did not insist on a reasonable timeline for parent input. Let Banda see how unhappy we are. He needs to understand.

DistrictWatcher

Charlie Mas said...

I have a lot of trouble with this news release. Critique to follow.

cascade said...

OK Melissa and Charlie If they're not bullying you (leaving you out of the media loop as in the past), then my apologies to SPS for fanning flames of distrust.

(Hey, District-Watcher, SPS may never issue an apology but lots of parents do.)

Anonymous said...

The large print giveth and the small print taketh away. Beware the small print.

Oompah

MS parent said...

It is still unclear to me what exactly the Bd/Transp is proposing at this pt - a return to the standards of 2011-12 but not necessarily the exact same bell times as we currently have..?? It sounds like they are still allowing themselves the opportunity to adjust bell times "minimally" and would that still happen and potentially be voted/approved next wk? Its vague. What is "minimal"? last yr they moved MS/HS bell times back 15 mins from 8:05 AM to 7:50 AM, w/bus arrival 7:35 AM. If the Bd thinks a 10 min adjustment to arrival/bell times is reasonable, then we are back at 7:40 AM start time. Or maybe they think pushing the 3rd tier to a later time is "minimal", what I'm saying is that adjusting times out by 10 - 15 minutes every year ADDS UP and is not a "minimal" impact on kids or parents schedules. The wording of this release seems designed to mollify active parents but still gives them an out to adjust the bell times to whatever they think will work w/Transp proposal. AM I reading this wrong?
-MS parent

mirmac1 said...

Who me, mollified? H*ll no!

Anonymous said...

The devil is in the details. "Minimal impact" on bell times according to the District may be a huge impact to affected families. We need the District to publish real start times before May 16. Not just bus times. Actual bell times. Please continue to advocate for this. Also, when are they going to show the new proposal to the public? May 15?
-- No school starts after 9:30

MS parent said...

I guess I'm hoping that parents dont let up pressure at this pt; we have to continue to advocate for clarity, public engagement, and enough time to process any suggested changes before they are adopted. Most parents will in fact be mollified by the SPS press release. I hope pple still sign up to speak at the Bd Mtg and continue to advocate, the way I read the release fr SPS , the fight is not over yet.

Anonymous said...

"The new proposal will return to the current 2011-12 transportation plan (and therefore minimal impact to current bell times) and a return to the 2010 ride times of up to 45 minutes."

Current ride is 25-30 minutes.
So if 15-20 minutes to the bus ride is are students picked up 15-20 minutes earlier or is the bell time moved 15-20 minutes later?


SPS Parent

TechyMom said...

Maybe they'll drop the kids off at first bell, instead of 20 minutes early?

Anonymous said...

You have to allow time for breakfast in the am.

parent