Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Bell Times Survey Now Up

From SPS Communications:
As part of the Seattle Public Schools Bell Time Analysis, we would like staff to provide their input on how a bell time change could potential impact them. The survey asks respondents to identify a number of factors that could be affected, either positively or negatively, by a change in the start and end times of the school day. Three options meant to solicit feedback are offered within the survey.

Please take a few minutes to complete this survey and let Seattle Public Schools know what you think about changing bell times.

If a Parent of a current student, click here.
If not a parent of a current student and member of the community, click here.
If a staff member of Seattle Public Schools, click here.

If you are both a staff member and a parent of a Seattle Public Schools student, please take both the staff and parent survey, as there are specific questions for each role.  

For more information on the bell time study, visit belltimes.www.seattleschools.org
I took the survey as the parent of alumni of SPS.  Some thoughts:

- first, what would have been good is a quick overview of the CURRENT bell times.  If your children are in elementary, you may have no idea what time middle or high school starts.  They get to the current times but very late in the survey.

- on the Modified Flip page, it feels like you are asked to opine without information; meaning, you can either guess or say you don't know.  That means that survey feedback can be based on guesses.  How would a parent know that "change in school start and end times will positively impact general education funds (i.e. save money)."  (Why not just say "change will save district money."  I actually didn't know that saving money was the end game here - I thought it was better academic outcomes for students.)

- As per most SPS surveys, I find this one suspect.  I don't think the questions were phrased properly nor was enough information given for participants to give a informed answer.


ProSleep Mom said...

I hope people will at least read the Introduction, and not just go right to the survey; then you have at least a bit of information.

Important facts, such as that secondary school start times after 8:30 are strongly endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, were left out. (As well endorsements of 8:30 or later by the Seattle Teachers Union, the Seattle School Nurses, the Seattle Council PTA, Seattle NAACP, El Centro, the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, 4,400 petition signers, etc, etc.)

The survey also makes it sound like family convenience is the primary concern. Shouldn't this policy be evidence based and driven by what will help our students succeed in school?

I am trying to get to the bottom of the transportation estimates. It seems to me that the Modified Flip should actually save money, as well as give 100% of secondary students a morning bell after 8:30. (Any one out there with deep knowledge of the bus system? or access to a data base with bus route start and end times?)

The extended HS day- where high school kids can choose to start at 7:50 or 8:40, only helps some high school students, and no middle school students. (BTW, this option was ranked dead last out of the eight considered by the Task Force.) It has been clarified that transportation will have to be offered for both start and end times, meaning the 84 buses that serve our high schools will have to run twice. This will be expensive. There are also many questions about how this option would work, from having to offer breakfast twice, to would principals and other key staff have to be present all 7 periods and what would that cost and it's not in the CBA...)

I also am surprised that there is no room for comments. In theory, the options may be revised after public comment- but this makes it pretty hard for people to comment or make suggestions. However, the N2N survey is open ended, so I guess you can comment there.

I hope readers will come to the N2N meetings and support the Modified Flip option. It's the best thing on the table, and public comments are the only way to spark improvements.

Anonymous said...

I just took the survey and was so frustrated that there was no place at the end for comments. In our family, we have a middle schooler starting at 7:50 a.m. (too early!) and an elementary age kid starting at 9:35 a.m. (too late!). I know that our elementary school is in the minority starting that late, but there was no place in the survey for me to identify that we are in that minority. I almost canceled my survey at the end for fear my answers were going to throw things off for the rest of you who have normal elementary start times, but after spending time completing it, decided to submit. Very frustrating.

--8:20 for all

Anonymous said...

Why is the district coupling K-5 with High school in the bell times discussion? They do not share buses. All high school students should be taking metro period, only SPED should be an exception.

We have 3 students and next year not a single one will have a bus and all will be 5 plus miles from their buildings. Oh wait I'm the bus! Where do I sign up for reimbursement?

A joke

Anonymous said...

Is there no email address for comments? There usually is for this type of thing, right?

Should we just send comments to the Superintendent, Pegi McEvoy, and all the School Board directors?

- reality check

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The survey also makes it sound like family convenience is the primary concern."

Yes, I saw that as well and I think staff is playing to that concern without putting in the big picture.

Reality check, I think you should send comments to Pegi McEvoy and cc everyone else you listed (plus the Taskforce).

Anonymous said...

My kids are at a K-8 and we love our bell time.
I am frustrated by the way this survey is framed. I'd like to advocate for a flip, but all the questions are asked as if my family is the only one that matters.
I will not complete

Another Obtuse Survey

Eric B said...

Another Obtuse, I'd go with completing the survey taking "your family" in a broad sense.

I also noticed that they want to know what changes with keeping bell times the same. Will keeping them the same positively or negatively impact you compared to how they are now? Maybe it's a test to see if the readers are paying attention.

Anonymous said...

The whole issue is a lot more complex than it's being presented, and any decision-making on bell times will--or, at least, should--have to address some of the other current efforts and issues districtwide, such as high school capacity shortages and the upcoming 24-credit graduation requirement.

Regarding high school capacity, while updated projections haven't yet been released, at least one district staff member working on facilities issues has floated the idea of split shifts (e.g., early day vs. late day) or alternate schedules (e.g., multiple year-round tracks). It sounds like very preliminary research, but it's interesting (a.k.a. "concerning"!) that they are to the point of exploring such options. Obviously any such changes could have a huge impact on bell times.

The 24-credit requirement will also likely have some implications for high school scheduling. Essentially, the number of HS credits required for graduation will be increasing from 20 to 24--so with a 6-period day like we have now, that leaves no room for students who fail a class to easily make it up. While the 7-period HS day option is intended to include only 6 periods per student, you could see how that could be extended to 7 for those who need to make up credits. It will be interesting to see what options the 24-credit task force identifies as feasible--and how they would impact bell times.

My hope is that the district will use these meetings and surveys to better understand the impact on real families, then will consider that info in combination with a whole lot of additional information--including research on sleep times, full transportation cost impact analyses, any impending changes re: high school capacity and scheduling plans, etc. Perhaps that's why the focus of this particular survey is on family convenience--hopefully this is just one of a number of factors under consideration in the decision-making process. (Then again, it could just be that they are horrible at creating surveys, as past efforts seem to suggest!)

As the parent of an incredibly sleep-deprived teen, I fully support a later start time for older kids. However, let's make sure we're looking at the big picture and really choosing the best option. We don't want to make a change now that has to be undone in a couple years due to HS capacity and/or scheduling issues.


kellie said...

@ pro-sleep mom,

Do you know why just moving to the standard two-tier bell time system was not on the options?

It is so interesting that the move to three-tiers had NO engagement. It was a MGJ special and just enacted. But somehow to change that requires this process.

Anonymous said...

It seems that with the dual-start times in HS, a student could get in 7 classes a day, if desired. So a music kid could take Spanish and an elective. That would be a huge bonus of this plan.

Otherwise music kids on a college prep route are denied any electives, whether it's PE, art CS; even Health has to be taken on-line. Hopefully this is a gateway to 7 periods a day for HS.


Anonymous said...

There's no money to pay for a seventh period for high school students. This is the most expensive (transportation costs) and least helpful option.

ProSleep Mom said...

M- Kids cannot take 7 classes under this plan. Do not support this plan thinking that will happen! Currently, as I understand it, we get state funding for about 5 of the 6 classes for high school. If there were 7 classes, we would still just get funding for 5- which would have a huge financial impact. (If someone understands funding better than I do, please correct or clarify.)

Kellie- Two tier was taken off the table as being too expensive. However, I'm not really convinced this is true.

Looking at the OSPI Transportation reports for this year, the District is running 702 routes with 356 buses. If you do the math (702/356) you get 1.97 Tiers! Why is this?

Two reasons- one is some routes are too long to complete before needing to start the next tier- we have routes between 10 and 18 miles- not sure why that is, but that's what it says.

The other, bigger reason, is that while each tier in the morning is 50 minutes long, in the after noon, Tier 1 buses only have 30 minutes to do their routes. This is because the elementary school day is 20 minutes shorter than middle/high. So high school gets out at 2:20 and elementary gets out only 30 minutes later at 3:10.

This adds 74 extra buses, which, at $66,000 per bus, mean an extra $4.8 million in cost.

The modified flip solves this problem by having elementary in Tier one. Then the afternoon spacing is 70 minutes rather than 30, you don't need the extra buses, and the buses might actually run more on time.

Two tiers would cost about what we are currently spending; modified flip would save substantially.

Push for improving the options by going to the meetings! Ask for two tiers, or at least for K-8s in Tier 2.

Anonymous said...

I am coming down strongly in favor of no change (now) to bell times. Not because it wouldn't be better to have a later start for the older kids but because I am looking at the reality of no space for high school students, and probably not enough space for many elementary students (again) within the next 5 years. Whatever money is thrown at changing policy and procedure now is going to get upended. The high school situation is untenable and split shifts seem a very likely possibility for today's middle and elementary students. As well, more elementary students mean more busses mean more tinkering with the schedule.

If and when we see a plan for tackling high school enrollment, then I will gladly advocate for bell time changes that work in conjunction with that plan. Otherwise, this is a drain on staff planning time and funds. The cart is before the horse.

Capacity Wonk

Anonymous said...

Also want to add that the 3 tier system brought in by staff despite zero documentation as to how much money it is saving, let alone the tradeoffs to learning and to family schedules, is the 100 pound gorilla problem here. What is the point in talking through the options on the table when the obvious need for discussion about going back to a 2-tier system is nowhere to be found? The choices being presented by staff are not the full picture. In fact they are a wrong-headed picture.

Capacity Wonk

kellie said...

I have never seen any evidence that the three tiers saves any money. 356 busses could very likely be employed for two tiers at the same cost.

We do know that three tiers causes start times that cause poor education. AND There is no evidence that this practice saves money.

So the argument that this bus practice puts more money in the classrooms is just bogus.

What is absolutely maddening is at the same time that this three tier system was pushed in with ZERO community engagement, there were also multiple pilot plans that really did save transportation dollars. Program like elementary schools sharing busses and community stops for longer routes.

So effectively the point of the survey is to ask for input on WHICH 20,000 students should get the bad bell time.

ProSleep Mom said...

Capacity Wonk- I appreciate and share your concerns, but as the parent of sleep deprived teens, I want to get this done. (And for those of you with younger children, your day will come before you know it and you will want this fixed too.)

I think the staff can manage this change and work on the critical capacity issues- particularly if they can stay focused on their jobs, and not be distracted by preschool, charter schools, and all the other things that are not their mission, much less their priority.

Staff would like nothing better than to say they don't have time for this- but it needs to happen. Don't give them this out! A huge amount of energy has already gone into this- don't drop it just before the finish line.

(I also think we'll see a lot more portables before we see split shifts- I know they are on the table for Ingraham. Pegi also talked about the possibility of every HS student taking one on-line class as an idea for 24 credits.)

Lynn said...

Where would they take this online course? We don't have enough computer lab space for that. At a 1,500 student high school, that would require 250 lab seats (and computers!) in addition to the ones we currently use for computer science classes, research, etc.

I really wish they'd talk to us about plans for high school capacity in the next few years. Ingraham has only 45 students on the wait list for 9th grade. Wouldn't they have to redraw high school boundaries (and soon) to make much use of portables at Ingraham?

Anonymous said...

As a parent of a K8 bullied and I do not use that term lightly by staff into the stupid three tier system I add my voice to where is the 2 tier option. The options presented are unpalatable because of the late late start time for someone which is only the case because of the 3-tier SNAFU. Change it back to 2 tiers. Then flip bell times. No doubt it will be easy to get community consensus with this one option. Cheaper and easier than the extra period of high school. Why does staff belittle and demean us under the guise of community engagement when its own taskforce recommended the 2-tier option be discussed and it's what most families seem to want.

'real choices!'

Anonymous said...

It only costs tons of money and time to think about doing this because staff is making it cost tons of money and time to think about doing this. This is low hanging fruit. It will improve educational outcomes for all kids, and more for low income kids. It closes the achievement gap, while improving outcomes for all. How often do we see unicorns like that? And it doesn't cost more money- the transportation costs should be identical or less. The only thing that is 'costing' is staff making up process and sending out surveys to frame the issue in the way they want- "is there anyone out there this would be inconvenient for? Let's have them be the first, loudest voices. Let's talk mostly about convenience and ignore science and the people this new system would be better for."

When staff has really wanted to do something- like move from two tiers to three- they made it happen without all this rigmarole.


Anonymous said...

I don't think the District is getting it. When our kids have to start school at nearly 10 o'clock in the morning, our families cannot maintain reasonable work schedules. Does the District think that "mom" is just going to drop out and cover here? The survey gives you the option of having your middle schooler home late in the morning, or your elementary schooler home late in the morning. Neither works for working families.


Anonymous said...

@ ProSleep Mom,

I don't think it's an issue of the amount of work and whether staff has the time/energy for it, but rather a matter of HOW the various components fit together. I have one of those sleep-deprived teens, so I fully understand the importance of this issue. But we need a sound, feasible plan that won't just need to be changed in a year or two. High school capacity issues have the potential to wreak havoc on any bell time plan. Collaboration across the bell time advocates, 24-credit committee, and capacity folks would seem to be a good thing.


Anonymous said...

@HIMS Mom,
Your post makes a lot of sense in theory - but that is not how this district rolls! We need to take what we can get, when we can get it. Yes, capacity will be an issue soon, but putting off changing bell times won't change that. And once something is a precedent, it makes it harder to change or alter significantly. I will take a couple of years of later high school start times now, over some nebulous capacity plan that may or may not be well thought out in the future.


Anonymous said...

9:40 is an unacceptable start time for any segment of SPS students and that includes mine. I have begun to actively push back against these choices. No family deserves to be saddled with this horrible to homelife option by taking one for the team for some high schoolers. No one. Prosleepers either need to get on the horn and refuse to let the rest of us be bulldozed or prepare for us to advocate strenuously against letting this go forward. Staff should be ashamed that this is the best they are prepared to offer.

survey taker

ProSleep Mom said...

@Survey Taker
The Task Force ranked the eight options and ranked Two Tiers first, Modified Flip 2 (where K-8's are at Tier 2) second and Modified Flip 1 (K-8s at Tier 3) as third. We want two tiers, and we know most every family in Seattle wants this too.

But he superintendent and his cabinet picked the choices you see now. (Extended HS day was dead last in our ranking, since it improves so few bell times.)

The reason given is cost, of course. But I think this is a fallacy, since our current supposedly three tier bus schedule is actually a two tier system!!! (702 routes on 356 buses- do the math-you can find the report on the OSPI website under transportation reports.)

We get all the pain and none of the gain.

The modified flip is far from perfect, but it's a big step up from where we are now. I would say put many comments on the N2N survey (which actually takes comments) about how you want better options, like two tiers or at least mod flip2, so people are only stuck in tier 3 for 3 years max.

@8:20 for all- The cost of this (one tier) would be huge, and as the state rates districts on efficiency, we would get even less funding than currently. This would be wonderful, but it's not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Why would the district care if a student took seven periods under the dual-start time for high school plan?

Aren't there some other district in W that offer 7 periods? I know that California has at least some districts with 7.

Any chance for an extra period would have me voting for the dual-start option.


Anonymous said...

The Task Force ranked the eight options and ranked Two Tiers first, Modified Flip 2 (where K-8's are at Tier 2) second and Modified Flip 1 (K-8s at Tier 3) as third. We want two tiers, and we know most every family in Seattle wants this too.

If that is the case then the task force should publicly at every board meeting and in the media voice this fact. Why would the district deep six its existing operations for something that is not what families want? Why is the task force buckling and not pushing back hard?

It is not enough to shrug and say oh well. Here's why. The task force won't get something. It will get nothing. Because the rest of us will fight back hard about the unacceptable 9:40 option. Again, no family should have to take one for the team on this issue. The unfairness to these families, mine included, outweighs the benefits of high school sleep.

survey taker

Anonymous said...

Wait, what? Most elementary students currently start at 9:40. These options decrease the number of students starting then, and specifically the number of elementary students, whose home lives are most affected by that start time. I agree with you that it is awful. It's my life, and it bites in many and varied ways. Don't get me started on how the school with the longest bus rides in the district (biggest draw area) is on tier 3, so they come home during the worst traffic of the day, in a very, very high traffic area. Buses routinely drop off at 5:30. ROUTINELY.

But for middle or high schoolers it could make sense(especially using metro), and it's better for lower income students.

I also am slightly bemused by the discussion of needing to link high school capacity to this. Think back to every previous round of capacity discussions you have ever been a part of. Can you remember even a single one where two years out they made a plan, and two years later that remained the actual plan that was implemented? That has not happened in my entire tenure as a parent here. There is no way that will happen now. if we require linkage staff will certainly use that to push their own agenda about start times, but it will result in zero better outcomes and zero less wasted transition for our students. What we have on the table-now- is to help all our students, and even moreso our poorest students, achieve better academic outcomes in a cost neutral way. Even if it is just for a few years, we would be foolish to turn that down. We have been foolish not to do it so far.


Pro-sleep Mom said...

The district cares because the district would have to pay all the money to fund the 7th period. State only pays for 5 now; local levies fund the 6th. With 7 periods, that need for money would double, and we are talking big numbers.

I am on the task force and have asked this question specifically, so I know there is no funding for seven classes.

Perhaps the district is relying on people misunderstanding that option because 7 periods is a really attractive option; but 7 periods are not part of the plan. This option certainly does little to make our bell times align with kids natural sleep phases. I hope you will reconsider and not support it.

Anonymous said...

I still don't see how there can classes for 7 periods a day but a student would not be allowed to access 7.

I looked at the task force documents and with the 24 credit requirement, a student has no room to fail even one class.

There is also mention of an 8 period day!


Anonymous said...

So glad Hale is already starting at 8:40. The benefit of a later start really needs to be extended to other high schools.


Anonymous said...

Some more thoughts on the effect of a tier 3 arrival for the K-8's:

~ These families would have this schedule for 9 years!

~ A 9:40 belltime for the 6-8th graders would actually be a 9:50 or 9:55 bell time for the K-5 kids, since their day is shorter than the middle school day.

~ These K-8's draw from the whole MS area, which means bus rides take longer, which means these kids (including K-3 kids) would (because of the even later starttime and longer bus rides) be getting home at least 30 minutes later than the elementary kids currently in tier 3 (which we know is excessive).

Really, the K-8's need to be put into tier 2. The rest of the plan you can justify based upon the science and other reasons that initiated this whole discussion, but the only reason that K-8's landed in tier 3 is because they are a smaller group of schools that can be moved to tier 3 for purely financial reasons - and finances shouldn't drive educational decisions.

Thank you, Pro-Sleep Mom, for trying to advocate for these kids.

~ K8 Parent

Lynn said...


High school teachers who work full time are paid to teach five periods and are given one prep period. To stretch the school day to seven periods, some teachers would have to start an hour later and stay an hour later than the current schedule. We won't have more teachers assigned to a school. Teachers won't be adding extra classes to their schedules.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the nitpick, but what would happen is the elementary kids would get out earlier, not get in later. So they would get home at the same time as current tier three students (and none of them have service areas or elementary populations as large, or as difficult of traffic patterns- across i-5 and through the u-district at 4:15 pm- as the one I am thinking of- Lincoln).

I think we could examine this case by case- Salmon Bay has a much larger middle school draw area than Hazel Wolf will, for example, so maybe they should be treated differently. Not sure about Licton Springs when it gets linked up with Wilson Pacific, or Broadview Thompson. I don't think anybody would put k-8's into tier 3 for reduced clout! Quite the opposite. They have middle school students (so not tier 1), and because of those larger draw areas you mention should really be on either tier 1 or 3 so as not to so severely impact other schools using their buses(be either at the front or back of the line).


Anonymous said...

PS- the 9 years point is a good one, though. How many k-8's are not option schools? That makes a difference to me. In most other districts, option schools are all on the last tier, because of the large draw issue the parent above mentioned, and because the thinking is all these families made a choice, in a way that families accessing a service (ell, sped, hcc), do not, or should not. I know it's not on the table, but I could see elementary or k-8 option schools being third tier as a fair option, too.


Anonymous said...

@ sleeper

There are currently 10 K-8s in SPS. There will be 11 with STEM@Boren.

Of these, 3 are assignment schools for grades K-5 and have attendance areas:

Broadview Thomson
Catherine Blaine

-North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Give it a rest sleeper. The k8s aren't going to go for this. The word is spreading fast. There is no need to throw another school community under the 3 tier bus to get what's best for yours.

Again, if you truly want whats best for all kids then you will use your advocacy time to take the 9:40 start time off the table. If you want to advocate for not letting perfect get in the way of good, fine. But many will then loudly vote for no change. The district always wants to split the school community up. Don't let this be another instance. Don't push the rest of your community's back up against the wall in your zeal for your own ideal.

survey taker

Anonymous said...

I also thought of having the K-5 kids start and 9:40 as well and get out earlier, but the SPED buses in the afternoon are shared K-8, so they couldn't leave until after the MS got out. Also, although MS kids I don't think are given transportation beyond an orca card, older sibs can ride on a space available basis, so I think you'd find buses would still be leaving very late - and I think the schools would say that K-5 kids are easier to deal with for an extra 15 minutes before school than trying to keep them in buslines for an extra 15 minutes after school, waiting for the MS kids to be released. This is just conjecture...

~K8 Parent

Pro-sleep Mom said...

@ Survey Taker-"If that is the case then the task force should publicly at every board meeting and in the media voice this fact. Why would the district deep six its existing operations for something that is not what families want? Why is the task force buckling and not pushing back hard?

It is not enough to shrug and say oh well."

We're shrugging now? (sorry, but I think someone else has the monopoly on that.)
Personally, I have testified at numerous board meetings over the past four years, attended many of the relevant committee meeting and board retreats- Melissa knows me from all these meetings, because she's there too. (Were you there?) I've been to numerous Board community meetings, our group has organized many many people to testify to the Board, lobbied various groups for endorsements, etc etc. They all know me and what I think- they need to know you care too.

Please sign up to testify, write your letters,go to the N2N meetings and let them know what your think. This has been a serious uphill battle, and it needs a lot of people to make this change. The staff is against this, and they have power. It will take a lot of us to win the day- no shrugging allowed.

Anonymous said...

Most of my kids are not at Lincoln, and one of them is at an option school which I'm suggesting putting on that third tier. My suggestion is actually value neutral for my family, and in any case our situation will have changed by the time this will be implemented. Not that really should matter, because the data supports it. We need to think about what is best for both the most and our most vulnerable students. Of the available options, the modified flip helps the most students, and helps many more than our current plan. The extended day is a red herring.

I disagree that 9:40 is an awful start time for all students. It is not a good start time for elementary students. It is a good start time for high school students, and maybe middle school students.

K8- I know some k-8's have at least considered what I was talking about(k-5 earlier)- they aren't all tier 2 now. But now I don't quite know where all that ended up. I do know that it is flexible, but I don't know how the varying factors (like SPED buses) impact it. If SPED buses are shared, that would be a problem at either end of the day, right? Because the elementary day is just shorter.


Anonymous said...

Why couldn't the extended HS day option ALSO involve a flip--such that elementary started earliest, then middle/K-8, and then HS students could either be early/mid or mid/late (depending on what works with transportation)? 4:10 (really 4:20) is way too late for middle school students to get out, and I think it's ok for HS to start at 7:50 for some kids, provided they have a choice. Some kids might want/need that option (e.g., for after school jobs, lessons, sibling childcare duties, etc.). That might also work well with the 24-credit requirement, as that group apparently mentioned an extended day as one option.

And sleeper, fair point re: the district's inability to stick to capacity plans. But isn't that partly because they never do good planning? If new 5-yr capacity projections are supposed to be ready in May, it seems like capacity should at least be on our radar as we think about the bell time options. But I do understand the appeal of a switch now, even if it could be short-lived.


Anonymous said...

Re: 7 periods

No net increase does not mean no extra seats during the day unless every class is full. Many AP classes and others are not at capacity. If more kids want 7 classes there would have to be a method to decide, but I don't see how there's not some room for some kids to take seven; maybe not every semester, but sometimes.


Anonymous said...

Almost everyone here is falling into the classic SPS TRAP!

(pitting us against each other in the thorns, rather than all of us unifying for the rational and correct solution: TWO TIERS).

And they so structure the surveys to get that result....

How about we all quit going down the hole, and all send the entire list on the home page right side an email saying "two tiers, start time 8:15 and 9:00, and find your supposed bus savings in 1) sunseting the old choice busing - b/c that's basically done - and 2) going to more consolidated community bus stops in neighborhoods that can support that and for more MS students.

But we must NOT tear each other apart on this topic -

Signed: Two tiers.

Anonymous said...

I just took the survey. I agree with Melissa: I don't think it was well-designed. The way things were worded made me feel uncomfortable and it felt vague.

And I agree with ProSleep mom that the survey makes it seem like family convenience is the primary driver of this. That's not the point, right? The biology of children and teens is the point.

Also, I'm getting confused by the terms used in the comments to this post. Modified Flip: what is that? Switching high schools and elementary schools times? Also, tiers? I'm not clear what tiers we are talking about here (but maybe I'm reading things too fast and it's explained).

The extended HS day seems to me to be a wacky and out-of-left field option. Where did that come from?? The conspiracy lover in me thinks it's put in there to muddy the waters and make people argue even more than they currently argue, causing the whole process eventually dribble out before anything is done (heh). Last year when all of this was being talked about, I never heard about the extended day option.

Also, our kid is a freshman in high school. I'm guessing none of this will be implemented until we are long gone. Sigh.

North End Parent

kellie said...

Regarding the notion that some kids, might somehow, be able to get extra classes in the extended high school option. IMHO, there is no possibility that a seven period day might produce this outcome.

It might enable more students to actually get six classes, but I doubt it, unless there are funding changes that go this model.

A currently dirty little high school secret is how many kids, right now, are unable to get that sixth period with the current master schedule. This is largely a funding issue. The current WSS formula for high school does not fund a master schedule that would create six periods for all students.

Students who take band can get six classes with minimal difficulty. However, students who do not take band and want six academic classes are not so fortunate.

One of the lovely details that was daylighted when SPS wanted to remove a teacher at Garfield was the little pesky detail that there were a little less than 100 students who wanted a sixth class that were unable to get that class and removing a teacher would have created far more students in that situation. When I looked at the other large high schools, they reported similar master schedule issues.

Anonymous said...

These proposed changes would not mean my children would get more sleep - a later start would just mean they'd stay up later. They still have x hours of activities and HW to fit into the day. A 9:40 start for middle school? What?? No schools should start that late. None.

The options are so bad (where is the analysis of 2 tiers?) that I can't will myself to complete the survey. I can't believe we're spending $ on this analysis while my child's class goes without textbooks.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Kellie,

I didn't think that was a secret. How many students are pushed into TAing for a period or 2, or just coming late or leaving early because they can't get classes in HS. It seems impossible to me, given the inflexibility in the current HS class scheduling, that all students would actually have a choice about which start time they want in a 7 period day. Nope, I think they will have to take the start time that allows them to get their required classes in & even that might be a period as a TA.

-HS Parent

kellie said...

Of all the crazy plans, I have seen over the years, this one might actually be the silliest and most transparent in the silliness.

The bottom line of these options is ... please choose which 20,000 students should be saddled with an inappropriate start time. Please list all the reasons why THOSE students will be LESS harmed by an inappropriate start time. Please list all the reasons why you are MORE harmed by an inappropriate start time.

The national debate about flipping start times is intrinsically tied to the two tier start time. With two tiers, the debate centers about elementary students starting before 9 and high school after 9. The debate about who has to start before 7 is crazy.

If the process somehow managed to over-ride the committee vote that had a two tier bus system as the number one option, was there at least some documentation about how excellent this three tier system is? And why three bussing tiers is the MOST important thing in a school district.

The three tier system was started with no studies and no community engagement. But changing this requires some mythical process that is more elaborate than a year long task force.

kellie said...

HS Parent,

Yes, it is actually a big secret. I wish all the high school PTAs would just report each year, how many students were unable to get their classes.

The inability to get classes is BOTH a sign of how the capacity is tightening AND how the WSS does not actually fund the sixth period for high school. This is despite the fact that the operations levy directly states that part of the operations levy is for funding that sixth class that the state does not fund.

Middle school have this to a lesser extent because there are fewer required courses and electives.

Anonymous said...

@sleeper you make good academic points this house of cards proposal all falls apart in the real world. Do adolescents need more sleep? Sure, most do. There's also the problem that many kids need jobs during high school. Need. So you expect our kids to get home sometime after 5 and then head out to work -if they can even get a decent job when they can't start before 5. Oh, I know, let's put them on close shift and they can get home at 1 a.m. and then do homework? Don't suggest saving homework for morning. That's a fast track to academic failure. This proposal also cuts out any working kid's opportunity for extras. Perhaps your kid doesn't have to work so you don't see the reality. The reality is that the rest of the world won't revolve around this flip. Clubs, sports, religious activities, internships, music, the arts. Most of this will be unavailable. I'm talking outside school activities. Sure, some school staff might move to pre-school extracurriculars. But it won't be most.

There's ideal and then there's real. For working kids getting real means a little less sleep these four years but the opportunity to still have a rich high school life.

Real-life mom

Anonymous said...

Where do you people live? Students in high school routinely take "period 0" classes. Usually band, jazz ensemble. And, they get to take 7 periods. Counselors explained this today for students rising into Nathan Hale. Ballard has this too, so does Ingraham. Probably most high schools already have 7 periods.

Reality Check

Anonymous said...

My kid is TA'ing for 3rd period because the only other option is PE and why take more PE when you have enough already? I guess TA'ing counts for the occupational credit though the TA'ing consists of doing their homework most of the time.


Anonymous said...

There are no zero period classes at Garfield.

Anonymous said...

Hale has some zero period classes (i.e. Jazz Band), but the normal school day at Hale starts at 8:40, so zero period at Hale is not that much different than a 7:50 start at most high schools.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

@ProSleep Mom

I went to the bell times task force page, trying to find out why going back to a two-tiered transportation system was ruled out, and wasn't able to find much information. Could you please direct me to the meeting notes or presentation that has this information?

I also couldn't find any information about how the three choices that are being presented came about, nor could I find the task force recommendations that you posted on this thread (with two-tier ranked first).

Are the actual task force recommendations posted somewhere on the bell times website? I didn't have a ton of time to go searching for them, so I could have missed them.

I took the survey. I found it strange that if you have a CURRENT 5th grader, like I do, and you check the box as having an elementary school student (it tells you to check the box for what grade level your kids are currently enrolled), then you are locked out of commenting about middle school bell times.

I also found it bizarre that there was no comment section.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

@North-end Mom-

That drove me crazy too. Nothing like talking about "future" when you are asked to use your "present" (which is effectively "past" at this point in the school year) as your frame of reference. I have an 8th grader and really want to weigh in about high school.


Anonymous said...

The 3 tier busing system was the brainchild of ex-Transportation head Tom Bishop. In theory it saved money by reducing the number of companies contracted for bus service - under 2 tiers there were actually 3 companies operating (Peterman, Curtis and First Student). Now there is only 1 company, (who has trouble getting enough drivers). To go back to 2 tiers, more buses would be required (the 3 tiers saved about $1mil), along with a change in boundaries and feeder patterns.

Changing bell time staggers was a requirement in order to make the 3 tiers work with a sole carrier, because you have fewer drivers to work with. All the burden moved to schools to work with those new bell times. Wheels within wheels, all thanks to Mr. Bishop.


Anonymous said...

North-end mom, I think in the other thread pro-sleep mom mentioned it was staff who decided to give the public these options, after the task force gave them their ranked choices with two tiers being number 1. Usually when a task force ranks options, those are not put up in public documents, and then staff decides what to do with those recommendations. We tend to just hear about it in the comment section here.

Real life- that is just a problem of a teenager trying to bootstrap him or herself up with not enough hours in the day. Right now that child, if they are working the same number of hours you propose, gets home at 3, works till 11, then has 8.5 hours until they have to be at school again. With a later start they still get home from work 8.5 hours before school starts again. It's not better or worse. Later start times doesn't magically give more hours in the day to people who need them, and this hypothetical person clearly does. It just lets them work when their brain actually can.


Anonymous said...

Real Life Mom,

Getting less sleep for four years might mean a richer high school experience for some students. For other students it means, more car accidents, more mental & physical illness that disrupt school, more sports injuries, more outbursts & violence in the school, lower grades, lower test scores, higher drop out rates.

My kid worked year-round all 4 years of high school & now works in college. But I am not willing to sacrifice the educational opportunities of other students so that my kid can fit in rich extra-curricular experiences. It is not the responsibility of the school district to make it easy for employers to fill the early afternoon shift especially if it increases drop-out rates.

If you have one of those students who needs less sleep or is a naturally early riser, they can do valuable things before school like exercise, read, or build a rocket. I get up at 4:30 every morning without an alarm clock & I can always find things to do til the rest of the world wakes up. This is something students have a choice about. The effects of constant sleep deprivation are not always their choice.

-physical realities

kellie said...

Once again, there is no evidence that three tiers actually saves money. As such, there would also be no evidence that two tiers cost more.

With all financial estimates, the devil is in the details.

Another proposal at the time was to have elementary school bell times shifted by 10 -15 minutes so that one bus went to two geographically close schools. This would have also eliminated a large number of busses.

The simple truth is that because of the long history of school closures, there are many places where students require a bus because there are not any close schools. There were maps of these areas during all boundary conversations.

kellie said...

Not all high schools have zero period. The ones that do tend to offer more music or a niche class that would blow up the rest of the students schedule to have that class during the main day.

This has been a nice bonus that some high schools could offer. However, capacity issues tend to destroy nice bonuses.

An official seventh period would not behave in the same way as a zero period. As all high schools, not just Garfield, Roosevelt and Sealth, will be struggling with capacity issues very soon, the capacity challenge would preclude that seventh class.

You can't offer seven credits to some without offering it to everyone and it would simply not be possible to honor this.

Seattle asked for an extension to core 24 because of capacity issues.

Anonymous said...


exactly - there is no evidence of a savings - so why DID the Board take Mr. Bishop at his word? Might be part of the reason he was quietly escorted from HQ one spring break and is now on his 2nd post-SPS job.
And yet, no one is willing to discuss going back to what worked

fascinating, isn't it?


Anonymous said...

FYI, from the district's bell times FAQs:

Q: There are three options being presented by Neighbor-to-Neighbor and the Bell Time Survey. Why not more? What about different bell time options?

A: For the Bell Time Analysis to successfully engage the community and solicit meaningful feedback on potential impacts of a bell time change, Seattle Public Schools needs to frame the discussion and questions to be asked through the use of potential scenarios. The options being presented for Neighbor-to-Neighbor and the Bell Time Survey are meant to frame the issue and provide context, allowing families, staff and community members to think about possible effects of a bell time change.

Additional bell time options will be considered by the Superintendent as he collect and reviews all data and feedback to determine how a bell time change could potentially impact the community and the District, determining the best bell time arrangement to recommend to the School Board. Based on this review, additional options may be presented to the community to consider.

Get those emailed comments in!


Kassi said...

As a parent of two elementary school kids and one middle school kid I find this all very frustrating! I don't see why there's any question about flipping. My middle schooler is a mess in the mornings, it is too early for him. He has to catch his bus by 7:15 in the morning. I took the survey and found it a little confusing. A encouraged friends to take the survey and one reported that she wasn't given an option 2 or the slip middle school and elementary school times, she thinks because she doesn't have one in middle school. Is she correct, do the survey questions change if you don't have kids in certain grades? That seems very strange to me. If you have an elementary school kid you will eventually (before you know it) have a middle school and then high school kid... and the flip side of that if you are only answering to benefit now, that is very short sighted! And now the radio story about the option that wasn't even presented at all just to confuse things more. Sadly, I can already tell where this is leading: no change in foreseeable future. Dang.