High School Start Times - What Happened?

The majority of high schools, comprehensive and alternative, will start at 7:50 am (ten minutes earlier than last year) and end at 2:20 pm.  This includes Cleveland STEM, World School and South Lake.

The outliers are Center School (8:30 am-3:10 pm), Chief Sealth (8:40 am- 3:10 pm), Hale (8:40 am-3:10 pm) and Nova (8:30 am - 3:00 pm). 

So Center School I get because of its location.  Sealth because it's a joint campus with Denny and the district promised to not have the middle school and high school kids come to school at the same time.  Nova?  Well, it is a project-based alternative school so I get that.

But Hale? It lives a charmed life and has been able to keep their late start for years (and to this day).   (I personally have never seen any advocacy from Hale's administration for this kind of benefit for other high schools. )

Also, how is that it's okay for Nova, Hale and Sealth all to deliver 10 minutes less a day to students than other high schools?  Does the district have a waiver from OSPI for this? (I'll have to ask.)

From Start School Later-Seattle

Hello SSL supporters,

Are you confused and angry about the new start times for our schools?  Most high schools will be starting at 7:50 while a significant number of elementary schools won't start until 9:30.  Why are we going in the wrong direction?  

This goes back to a revision of transportation standards that places buses in a 3-tier system which is supposed to save the district money.  This revised transportation system was approved by the board back in February.

Very few buses serve our high schools, but since they drop off students at 7:35, high schools are being required to start at 7:50.  Nathan Hale is one of the exceptions, and will have an 8:40 start because years ago they analyzed the issue and have been on a later starting schedule to the benefit of their students.

What can we do?

The superintendent has the authority to determine start times.  There is no good reason for high schools to be moving to an earlier start time.  As many of you are aware the American Association of Pediatrics just released a policy statement advising that middle and high schools should start at 8:30 or later.  This is major and is consistent with our initiative.  Email our new superintendent, Dr. Larry Nyland and urge him to move high school start times back to 8:00.


As a recap, the school board voted 6-1 in July to begin analysis and community engagement work on start times.  SSL-Seattle will be working with the district to ensure that this work gets done and that outreach on the issue is presented in a scientific and balanced manner.

Stay tuned on ways to keep the district accountable to working on start times.  In the meantime, we should all ask that our high schools go back to 8:00 starts.


Lynn said…
The high schools all have a six and a half hour day.
Center School runs from 8:30 to 3:00 and the schools with a 7:50 start are getting out at 2:20.
Lynn, according to the district website, Center gets out at 3:10 pm.

As Charlie says, I can only go by what the district tells me.
Anonymous said…
Sealth is starting 15 minutes later and ending 15 minutes later. Not aware of any other schedule changes such as longer breaks so I don't think there are any special permissions there.

Lynn said…
I see where you found the 3:10 time.

Here's the Bell Times Schedule I accessed through the School Directory webpage.

To make things more interesting, the school's website says their day starts at 8:30 and ends at 3:05.

Is anyone else surprised by the sloppiness you encounter when looking for district information?
Charlie Mas said…
Funny how Mr. Wright can tell the Board and the public that it is a huge, multi-departmental project that would bring the entire district to a standstill to move high school start times, and then he moves high school start times without anyone even intending to do it.
Anonymous said…
Staff moves school start times every year with no community engagement or warning. Every year parents at some schools must change childcare arrangements, after school activity commitments & work schedules as their school start time is shifted. This year running start kids were hit. With tight graduation requirements, there is very little wiggle room for them to make other arrangements.

Yet somehow starting high school later is a huge undertaking that will displace district priorities. What a double standard.

-HS Parent
Anonymous said…
You'll remember from a previous post I made that Hale isn't really happy with starting 10 minutes later but decided that there were more important things to fight. Were the district to try and switch Hale to an earlier start time you would have a huge hue and cry over it. In the past, many families chose Hale because of the later start time and it is an ingrained part of the culture there along with the late starts on Tuesdays.

And while Hale admin itself may not be an active supporter for later high school start times, many of the parents in the community are.

Po3 said…
Highschool start time was 7:50 last year also - no changes made for those schools.

What if the times were shifted by 15 minutes 8:05 - 2:35 would the busses still be able to to their second routes and would sports will be able to complete their practices?

This let's take a year to study is moving start time is infruiating, given there are schools - with busses and sports on the late schedule and things seem to be running quiet smoothly.

Seems to me an Excel spreadsheet would be able to answer these what if questions pretty quickly.

What is the issue?
Po3, the logistic issue or the real issue? Because honestly, you're right.

You gather up all the data - the number of students, locations, etc. - and put it on a spreadsheet. Then you add in the other factors - specialty services/programs.

The district isn't always good at logistics so it's not as simple or easy as it might seem.

But I think the real issue is that the senior staff doesn't believe it will have an impact, they don't want to do this work and they want any money it might cost to go to their pet projects.

I'm no mindreader but I'll be willing to bet when they give their study to the Board, the conclusion will be "can't do it."
Anonymous said…
Nova actually goes until 4:00.

Nova parent
Po3 said…
Are the Hale and the Sealth buses able to drop off students then do a second loop to get the elem students in the surrounding areas to school on time? If yes, then why can't all HS buses to the same thing?

If no, then how is transportation being handled for elem students in these areas?

I could understand the long study period if we were looking to move all HS to a late start, but now that we know there are two "regular" HS on late start seems to me you look at what they are doing and simply replicate.
Lynn said…

Not every high school started at 7:50 last year. This year every high school (except Center, Sealth, Hale and NOVA) has a 7:35 bus arrival time and a 7:50 start time. Last year the only high schools with a 7:35 arrival time were Hale and Sealth.

During 2013-14 buses were perpetually late for arrival and departure at their three elementary schools. Tier one school times were moved ten minutes earlier to avoid moving tier three pickup times from 3:50 to 4:00.
Patrick said…
Now next year the outcome of the "study" on later high school start times can be "we can start them 10 minutes later without hurting anything! Didn't we do a good job??"
Lynn said…

The majority of the buses have to run three routes a day - not two. Hale can start later because most of it's buses run to a tier one middle or high school first. To keep our three tier schedule, some schools have to start at 7:50.
David said…
I agree with the start later folks that all high schools should start after 8:30 am, period.

However Ballard has been starting at 7:50 for the last 5 years, at least. I believe Roosevelt has as well. Not sure of before that, but I don't get why some schools moving 10 minutes to be in line with other high schools is such a hardship as stated here.
Again, Nova parent - the district does NOT say that. I can only go with what the district puts up at the website.

It's a huge issue that there are differences in information throughout that website.

David, if all high schools need to be "in line," then ALL high schools should have the same schedule (except alternative ones).
Po3 said…
FYI: Classes at Center start at 9:10 (8:30 on Wed only)

Tutorial is at 8:30, which is not the same as 1st period!

Tutorial 8:30 - 9:05 a.m.
1/2nd 9:10 - 10:55 a.m.
3/4 11:05 - 12:45 p.m.
Lunch 12:45 - 1:25 p.m.
5/6 1:25 - 3:05 p.m.
Anonymous said…
Roosevelt & Ingraham were starting at 8, not 7:50.

Students did not know of the start time change when they registered for classes. It affects students in running start. Changing your schedule is very hard at this time of year.

-HS Parent
Anonymous said…
Franklin is the same this year - 8am-2:35pm. No change for us.

-Franklin parent
Anonymous said…
Have parents brought this issue to Board members - not being able to access Running Start classes because of the change?

Anonymous said…
Garfield was 8 o'clock last year. It's really bad for Running Start because it is now not possible to get back to school for third period if you take two Running Start classes. What's the big deal about 3rd? ORCHESTRA!! Give up orchestra or give up the college credits. Many kids want both, and seniors don't have much flexibility left in their schedules.

Po3 said…
Wait...there are HS being moved from 8am to 7:50am?

The board directs the staff to study later start times and staff promptly moves some HS start time earlier?

That is seriously twisted.

katie said…
Franklin parent -

According to this, Franklin is also now 7:50


All the high schools that had been 8:00 last year are now 7:50 and it really messes up running start for so many students.
Anonymous said…
Another problem with 7:50am start times- many students use Metro bus service which has cut back services in recent years, besides being difficult to arrive at the exact time needed to not be late for classes. The 10 minutes earlier start time will be a real hardship for these students. 10 minutes late to class counts as a full out absence, period.

WSHS parent
SusanH said…
I think this quibbling over 10 minutes is silly. If the buses need to run different tiers to be economical, then simply switch elementary with middle & high schools. Let the teens start at 9:30 am, and the littler kids start at 7:50 (when they are up anyway). That enables parents to get their elementary kids to school in time for them to get themselves to work. The middle and high-schoolers can be trusted to get themselves to the bus a little later, on their own.

I know some elementary parents will complain about their kindergarteners waiting in the dark at 7:30, but come'on, all the parents are out there with them.

Sorry. I'm cranky about my 6 am wake-up tomorrow to blast my 7th grader out of bed, right when his body needs the sleep.
Po3 said…
SusanH - I think those 10 minutes are very much worth quibbling over. If you read this thread you see two things as a result of the change.
1) Running Start, which is accessed by students across the city, is now not an option for students willing to take a morning class. Question is why is the district creating obstacles for Running Start students?

2) The board directed staff to study moving start times later - they responded by moving HS start times earlier. In my world that is called insubordination.

So yes, those 10 minutes are very much worth fighting over.
Anonymous said…
I would add to your list of important consequences:
3. A 10 min. earlier start time results in a 30 minute (or more) EARLIER Metro bus ride for many high school students who will not be in class on time otherwise.

This earlier start time pushes into the adult/working commuters busses, which are already filled to capacity and often pass by bus stops without picking up passengers.

The bus arrival times are not reliable as is, and it is imperative that students arrive inside the classroom on time or they can be marked as Absent (and not just tardy)if they arrive 10 minutes late. By school board policy, absences in HS are also tied directly & NEGATIVELY IMPACT GRADES (and not just attendance records.

WS parent
SusanH said…
Sorry guys, I know the 10 minutes is important for all the reasons you listed. I did read the feed. I'm just irritated with the district for not moving decisively and quickly toward much later start times for teens given the wealth of research supporting it. Having them decide to form a committee to talk about the issue for the next three years is annoying.

Yes, PO3, it feels like an insubordination.
Lori said…
For whatever it's worth, the 750AM high school starts were approved by the Board on February 4, 2014 when they approved the bus arrival/departure times. The schools with 750AM starts have 735AM bus arrival times (there's always a 15-minute difference to allow for breakfast at school).

The vote to officially study swapping the start times came in July. I understand the frustration out there, but it certainly doesn't seem to amount to insubordination.

Someone please correct me if I'm reading Board minutes incorrectly, but this looks like the time line to me.

Lori said…
Oh, now I see that what I just wrote is covered in the original post too. But still...
Anonymous said…
Katie -

Well no one told the administration at Franklin since all the docs they've sent home so far have an 8am start - we'll see if that changes for some reason. But as far as I know, 8 is what they are telling families.

Franklin Parent
Anonymous said…
I stand corrected - Franklin DOES have a 7:50 start. All the papers they sent plus the voicemail from Principal Wiley said it was an 8am bell. After yesterday, my daughter said that yes, indeed they announced it had changed. Go figure....

~Franklin Parent

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