Some Seattle Schools Kindergarteners Will Start School Later Than Others

The District sent out letters to some kindergarten parents to tell welcome them and given them info on kindergarten readiness as well as a "transition camp" this summer.   The letter is dated May 31st but somehow is just making it to parents' mailboxes. 

Oh, and that their kindergartener won't start school until September 14th (not the 9th like everyone else).

Schools listed below will delay the start of school for Kindergarten students until Monday, September 14th to hold "Family Connections" visits for Kindergarten teachers and families.  All other students will start school on Wednesday, September 9th.

Bailey Gatzert               Graham Hill           Madrona PreK-8                   Rainier View
Stevens                          Beacon Hill            Hawthorne                            Maple
Roxhill                           TOPS K-8              Broadview-Thomson K-8    Hazel Wolf K-8
MLK                              Sacajawea              Van Asselt                            Concord
Highland Park                Northgate                Sand Point                           Viewlands
Dunlap                            Muir                       Olympic Hills                       Sanislo
West Seattle                    Emerson                 John Rogers                          Olympic View
South Shore PreK-8       Wing Luke

Where to start?

That list is about 30 of the 60 elementaries, so half the kindergarteners will start later than their peers at other schools.

Everyone knows that the first day of school is pretty special so those kids and their families are going to miss the real first day.  I would hope that these schools would have a welcoming gathering (whether or not they already did one on the real first day) for the kindergarten parents.

These students will miss 3 full days of school.  Does this family visit with the teacher outweigh that time?  I'll have to ask how long this visit is.

How much less classroom time does the District think students need between late starts and assessments and now this? 


Anonymous said…
This is also a list of the poorest schools in town, isn't it? So families already struggling with childcare, and students at risk, are missing three more days of school and presumably have to come up with an hour or more free during the day for a meeting with their kids' kindergarten teacher? Geez.

And is that a typo in the original letter, or a transcription error about when other students start? I ask because SPS is atrocious lately about dates in information sent out, to a ridiculous degree. I remember getting about four robocalls one morning about a day off earlier this year when they just could not get it right. Embarrassing.

Anonymous said…
We received this letter since our school is one of the delayed kindergarten start. The mention of the late start was all the way at the bottom, and is very easily missed. Initially I thought that the delay was due to Jump Start, but then not all of the schools participating in Jump Start are listed as delayed. So now we will need to find childcare/summer camp for the rest of the week, for no specific reason. The letter provided no information about what will be happening during those three days.
I agree that most of the schools on this delayed start list have a higher percentage of FRL or ELL students.
-Olympic Hills mom
Anonymous said…
This is asinine.

Have the kids who are at Title 1 schools, whose families probably count on school the MOST, miss a week of school?

Does this mean they will have to END school later? Just them? Did anybody think about this?

Seriously, when are these lucky 2,500 going to end school? Anybody think about that?

I'm guessing there is a loop hole that excludes Kindergarten from the minimum number of instructional hours required. So, they want K teachers to go around and visit kids in their home environments, and to do so, they simple cancel the week of school for about 2,500 kids. I be there are at least 2,500 siblings of these 2,500 kids who will be in school for that week. What do they expect families to do? And, not all of the schools are part of that program anyway. How will this affect the new preschools? Remember those shiny new things?

This is beyond stupid. And, announcing it now, when so many won't take notice. Nice. Classic. Is this the change management that Echeverria is bringing about for his $137,630 salary? Awesome! He rocks! Go, Guillermo, go!

Do the Directors even know about this? I cannot imagine Betty Patu would stand for something this stupid, this disruptive, this unnecessary. I can't believe Sue Peters would not crash JSCEE little party and explain they have a MAJOR problem with execution. I like how the children of Viewridge or Adams or Schmitz Park or Hay don't have to deal with this mess. Go team.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, is there a typo in your post, or is the SPS letter that confusing? Your post says the schools listed will delay starts to 9/14, while all other students will start on 9/14--the same date.

And does "all other students" mean all K students at other schools, all other grades at these particular schools, or all other SPS students? Maybe the original letter includes some clarifying info?

Po3 said…
Add to this...most elementary schools take off the week of Thanksgiving for parent-teacher conferences.

So some SPS students will miss over a week of class time in the first semester and parents will need to pay additional childcare costs.

Thanks, HF, I'll correct that.

"All other students" is the district's phrase which I take to mean all other SPS students.
Anonymous said…
The letter says the schools listed will delay start to Monday 9/14, while all other students will start Wednesday 9/9.
-Olympic Hills mom
Anonymous said…
Also, according to the Van Asselt website, for the first two weeks of the regular school year, kindergarteners are in session only 9:55-12. I can't find the link and don't have any official notification from the school.
Anonymous said…
Doesn't SPS have to provide 180 days of schooling? or is Kindergarten somehow not required?
Anonymous said…
Seattle Waldorf always has the Kindergarten start on a Monday while the rest of the school starts on the Wednesday before, the same Wednesday after Labor Day that public schools start. It has to do with structure and wanting the Kindergarteners to start at the beginning of the week. So this is not unheard of in the private school arena.

Anonymous said…
wow, did they think about this at all? What % of families in these schools have parents working outside the home? Why not conduct these visits after school or on the weekend? This is astonishingly capricious and disruptive.

Anonymous said…
This is because of WaKIDS and many many districts do it in WA state. Mostly only Title I schools are implementing WaKids in SPS, to my knowledge.

I actually don't care who else does this. I would like to know why and I'd like to know why there was no public notice and I'd like to know how this plays out for the parents in question.
Anonymous said…
The WaKIDS assessment is now required in all state funded All Day Ks (which is why the pay for K schools are not doing this). Each K teacher must meet with each family for 30 minutes at the start of the school year, in addition to completing the Whole Child Assessment. This is a directive from OSPI. Conference days are considered school days, so the last day of school will remain the same for all.

Alicia said…
My school is one of the ones on the list and this is the 3rd year Kinders are starting later. They do not go later, they just miss 3 days of school. This occured when my youngest started Kindergarten. The reason I was given was so they could do conferences with families and so the kindergarteners could have a calmer first day with more help from support staff. Not sure if I buy that, but that is what we were told.
How is a 30 minute visit worth 3 days of school? I'll ask OSPI tomorrow.
Anonymous said…
Lowell did this last year - I'm surprised that they are not on the list this year.

My daughter did not participate in WAkids as it apparently does not apply to kids in self-contained classes. I'm not sure if that is an official policy or was just the school being practical - her teacher already knew her from preschool, and we've had plenty of conversations with school staff about where she's at. It would also be problematic to start later than the other kids in a multi-grade classroom, so she started on the regular first day of school.

Here is the OSPI flyer on WAkids:

Mom of 4
Lynn said…
Here's the OSPI information page on WaKIDS.
Mom of 2 in CC said…
My two are entering Hawthorne K in the fall. Six weeks ago we got a call from one of the K teachers (who, by the way, clearly remembered meeting me at the open house a few months before, which was impressive given the amount of folks at the open house). The call was to encourage us to sign up for Jump Start but she also made it clear that K wouldn't start until the 14th. She also explained that those days would be used for meeting with families. Personally, while the hassle of childcare is an issue (and for full disclosure, we can afford it and I realize we are lucky) I am pleased that the school I am sending my children to is spending the time to get to know the kids and families. I've been a bit on the fence about Hawthorne and did a bunch of research into it and private, but the fact that they are spending time trying to get to know the community that will be their classroom seems like a good thing to me.
Anonymous said…
The kids are out of school for 3 days for November parent conferences as well. Not saying I agree, it's just what we do in SPS when teachers are expected to conference with the whole class (which was 29 kids in my son's K class this year). I know my old district does the WaKIDS parent conference in the child' home. Not sure if any SPS schools are doing that? It was amazing to meet the entire family on their own turf. I started the year feeling really connected to every family in a really positive way.

Anonymous said…
The list doesn't correlate very well with Title 1 schools (i.e. Sacajawea, TOPS, Hazel Wolf, and maybe others on the list have FRL% under the Title 1 threshold of 40%). I'm pretty sure all the schools listed have a significant ELL population (and draw from neighborhoods with ELL-qualified kids). Maybe this is being done as an extra precaution to identify all eligible ELL kids, so that they don't fall through the cracks...and help SPS to be compliant with ELL policy?

Do most of these schools have Jump Start the week before school? How weird it will be for incoming kindergartners to do a week of Jump Start, then not start school right away (and what a nightmare for those families needing childcare).

- North-end Mom
Anonymous said…
Mom of 2 in CC -- isn't the issue here the fact that most families in the Hawthorne catchment area will be working and will have counted on the school starting on time as scheduled? And do you see academic achievement linked to these home visits? I don't. What's the point other than feel goodies.

NE Mom, yes, the letter references Jump Start.

It would appear the people who can least afford childcare will have to find it because of this decision. And they can send some kids to school but not their kindergartener.

Again, if this is so great and it's only 30 minutes, why not have slots on Saturdays?
Maureen said…
And if the parents are at work, who is the teacher visiting with? The daycare workers? I guess the family needs to take a day off from work and pay for two extra days of childcare.

I really hate the fact that our state is so cheap about education that they won't pay the teachers extra to do these visits over the summer at their convenience and the convenience of the families. There are so many ways that Washington and Seattle education administrators try to apply good ideas, but ruin it because they do it on the cheap and on the backs of the teachers and the children.
Trina said…
John Muir did this last year as well. We met with my son's teacher for 30 or so minutes, and it was comforting for everyone to have the one-on-one time. The conference slots were set up over Wed/Thurs/Fri, I assume to try to accommodate schedules. There was a lot of support and focus on the kindergarteners for their first day, although I don't know how it compared to other years because this was my first child going to kindergarten. It was not a hardship for us, nor did it seem to be a hardship for the other families in our class. Perhaps I'm too into feel-goodies, but I think my son would have been a mess on his first day without this conference, and that it was completely worth the effort.
Anonymous said…
Isn't that why they have Jump Start? One week of half day kindergarten to get the kids familiar with the environment and the school before all the other kids are there. All of these schools are already participating in Jump Start, so I don't understand the need to do it again in exchange of 3 days of missed school.
Olympic Hills mom
dj said…
My oldest was at T.T. Minor for kindergarten (she was in the Montessori program that moved to Leschi after capacity management closure), and her k-2 teacher did this for the incoming kindergarten students (this would have been in 2007). I do not know if the non-Montessori kindergarten students were also visited, but the teacher had suggested that this was part of a program to connect with families, see if there were books in the house, see if there were issues the teacher might want to know about, etc., so I am guessing that it was part of the same or a similar program. I have a very dim memory that the teachers were compensated in some way for the time, but do not quote me on that.

I do know that my daughter started kindergarten at the same time as everyone else in the district, and that the home visit was in the evening, after work.
Good to hear DJ, I'll have to ask why that changed (but maybe it was school-based).
Melissa Jonas said…
Add Kimball to the list. They weren't in the SPS letter listing schools participating in "Family Connections", but the school sent a letter saying as a Title I school we'd start late and have a chance to meet with teachers during the official start.

Brief thoughts:

1) There's value in these meetings
2) It's not reasonable to ask teachers to work (even more) hours outside regularly scheduled school time.
3) There will be confusion for K students in families with older students
4) It's a childcare hardship for the very low income families who are intended to benefit from the conferences

How could/should the district handle this? I don't have a perfect solution. OPSI should have some better ideas than "start K later". Paying teachers for an additional week of work would be great. So would offering this during Jump Start--taking advantage of the families already being plugged in that week/sweetening the pot for them to do Jump Start.

One thing SPS could do that wouldn't cost any extra money: accurately convey information.
Anonymous said…
When teachers walked out the one day to protest school funding, Parks and Rec provided free childcare at community centers. Families needing childcare for these three days should call their closest community centers and ask about childcare for those days. If Parks knows there is a need, I'm pretty sure they will try to arrange something for families, as the community centers and the Boys and Girls Clubs have always worked to provide care for the early dismissals, PD, and conference days. Maybe after the district finds out how much state funding we will get, they can give better ideas about the plans for next school year. Right now they probably don't even know how much money they will have to pay for teachers.
Best thing for us to do is to convey to those legislators how angry we will be if they don't fund schools adequately as they are REQUIRED to by our Courts; and tell the state Supreme Court Justices to put those legislators who refuse to do so in jail for contempt.


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