Sunday, July 12, 2015

Bell Times Taskforce Vote

Here's the Friday Memo section about Bell Times and what different categories of stakeholders thought.

The winner - by a mile- is Modified Flip.

In other District news, the Board is to have a two-hour Executive Session meeting on July 18th to "evaluate the performance of a public employee."  I'm thinking since it's two hours, it might be someone up the food chain.

Lastly, I have mentioned this before but the District powers down - way down - in the summer.  It's to the point where I believe they just operate with a skeleton crew a lot most of the time.  Staff who generally always acknowledge requests are silent.

I always think of this when community members (usually people making comments at ed stories in the Seattle Times) say that teachers only work 10 months a year.  That, of course, is only true on the surface and anyone who know a teacher knows that.  But it seems the folks at JSCEE are not really around much in the summer either.  I suspect that a few, like teachers, are trying to catch up on work and/or sit back with that time and think about the way forward.

But it is a strange thing to not have access to people OR the webpage in any real way.


SPS Mom said...

Because of the way the vote was done with the task force and the surveys were done with the parents and teachers, there isn't a good way to capture the vote for a modified flip with the adjustment made to put the K8's into tier 2, which, I understand, was discussed extensively within the task force and has much community support. Has anyone heard anything more about this amendment moving forward?

Anonymous said...

My bet is it is the Sup's evaluation and/or reviewing the outside reports (plural) on Ron English and his running of the legal department.


Eric B said...

It's sort of understandable that people in JSCEE are gone much of the summer. That's when it's easier for them to take vacation, especially longer ones. A budget person isn't going to be able to easily take two weeks off in March-June, and I'm sure it's similar in many departments. Heck, I'm out of the office for half of July myself because of the school schedule.

Anonymous said...

I would genuinely like to know why transportation costs increase so much. Can anyone point me to a document that explains this? I read the powerpoint that was linked in Melissa's post but it didn't explain why they go up so much. Intuitively, I can't follow why (if all these students are currently being bused), costs go up.


Anonymous said...


I'll take a stab your question. The 3 tier system allowed SPS to contract for fewer buses, because the same bus could be used to run several different routes to several different schools. That meant SPS could contract for fewer buses to transport the same number of kids (hasn't been always successful at this, but that was the underlying philosophy behind former mgr Tom Bishop's strategy).

The proposed modified flip is a return to a 2 tier system, which would require additional buses. That's because you could no longer use 1 bus for 2 or 3 different routes. Each bus added costs $66,000 to lease from the vendor a year. So yes, there would be a corresponding rise in transportation costs.

Some of those additional costs are offset by Federal dollars but not all. The trick is can SPS's bus vendor find enough additional drivers. There is already a shortage, so that's a pretty big "if". Back in the old 2 tier system, there were at least 2 bus vendors; now there is only 1, which may further complicate the ability to make this proposal work but that's an educated guess on my part. I don't know that for a fact.


mirmac1 said...

It's more complex than that. The current 3 tier system is inefficient and does not properly balance #s of buses (qty, non-SpEd vs SpEd), length and number of routes, etc let alone Bio considerations. So SPS has in fact wasted money on buses, leaving 50 parked during the current Tier 1.

kellie said...

I looked at the math that was presented to explain why two tiers would increase the cost so much in the Board Memo for May 15th.

In that memo, there is a 100 bus gap between Tier 1 and Tier 2, which is an IMPOSSIBLE scenario. SPS has always moved a few schools around so that the gap between the two start times was only a handful of busses but in the baseline scenario there was a 100 bus gap so it was really not two tiers but 1.5 tiers.

So on top of this 100 bus gap they added a 15 and 30% error rate to cover the possibility of inefficiencies. The 30% error rate, then had an almost 200 bus gap.

The math was just, not reasonable but yet ....

Anonymous said...

Kellie - My initial gut reaction was that the 50 minute gap between tier 1 and tier 2 was what was making the costs for the 2 tier solution so high... If they made it a 70 minute gap (still allowing the schools to start at 8am for K-5 and 9:10am for 6-12 and K-8's), I would think that would allow more buses to run two routes. Is my thinking accurate?

~SPS Mom

Anonymous said...

thanks for the answers about the increase in transportation costs - very helpful.


kellie said...

I don't think the 50 minutes vs 70 minutes had anything to do with the 100 bus gap upon which the cost estimate was based. The gap was determined purely by dividing up the current routes into TWO groups, based on the elementary and secondary and the uneven number was then part of the foundation of the math.

As many people have pointed out, the switch from two to three tiers was estimated to save $4M and then in reality saved $2M and that was with a very aggressive attempt to optimize and save costs. Therefore, the probability that to switch back to two tiers, would cost more than that is just silly.

Moreover, the math just doesn't make any sense when you consider that we are now bussing FEWER students then before the switch. Despite the 1,000 student per year enrollment growth, the number of students with transportation has declined every year.

Sometime, when you follow the instructions, you just get bad math. The math followed the instructions "what would it cost if there were two tiers one elementary and one secondary" The instructions were not, if we optimized everything, is there a way to switch tiers so that it is cost-neutral.

There is a way to go to two tiers that would be cost neutral. For example, maybe if the gap was 70 minutes instead of 50, it would have been cost neutral?

Cecelia said...

I would like to see what the actual community survey summary data is on this. Anyone know if that will be available or who to contact to get it?

My daughter is at a K-8 school and is going into 1st grade. The flip would have her finished at 4:10. I filled out the survey firmly asking to leave the bell times alone (even though the online survey was a bit confusing). I also sent an email to the district and cc'd multiple people and received no response what so ever for that. I have been talking to some other parents and we seem to have a decent number who opposed this and also sent emails and received no responses.
In general I want to do some more follow up on this so if anyone has suggestions on who to contact I'd appreciate this.

Anonymous said...

Is the modified flip still with 3 tiers or has it changes to only 2 tiers. A 940 start with a 410 ending is horrible. My middle schooler, albeit not a morning person, cannot fathom ending at 410. I haven't been following recently so am not up to speed on the latest and greatest. Thanks.


SPS Mom said...

It's my understanding that it is still a 3 tier modified flip that will include a 4:10 end time for tier 3, which puts those K8 families on this schedule for NINE years. How many families can modify their work schedules for that long (if at all!). Most parents need to be at work by 9 at the latest (a late start for HS and even MS is a little more tenable because they theoretically can get themselves out the door in the morning.). I also wrote to the board with my concerns and got a boiler plate response from Marty but no one else. I suggested in my email that if the 50 minute tier time difference was expanded, the cost would likely be much less, but that point wasn't addressed.

ProSleep Mom said...

First, I wanted to clarify that the Modified Flip is a 3 tier system, not 2 tiers as some have mentioned above.

Even though District analysis shows that our current 3 tier system is effectively a 2.24 system (due to 30 minutes between tier 1 and 2 in the afternoon, as well as a failure to balance the tiers in general), they will not consider a pure two tier system.

Their cost estimates are, as Kellie says, examples of really bad math and logistical management- but two tiers would definitely cost more. My own analysis, which is also supported the fact that moving to three tiers only saved $2 million, is that it would cost about $3 million. This might not be an unreasonable price to get schedules that support learning and that work for families too- but it will be hard to get the board to spend that money.

I hear and appreciate the frustration/concerns of the K8 families and agree that 9 years of late starts is a hardship. It also is not a good schedule for younger children, in terms of their typical sleep/wake cycles, and best times for their learning. As a Task Force member, I have lobbied hard to get the modified flip changed to put K8's in Tier 2.

To give kids their best chance at academic success, parents need to unite around one plan-which is the Modified Flip2. This plan has most Elem in Tier 1, remaining Elem, HS and K8s in Tier 2 and MS in Tier 3. It puts every child in a biologically appropriate time, and is pretty cost effective. (I think it would actually save money over our current system-the board can hardly argue with that.)

Tier 3 is not a popular time- but if we have to have it, having it for 3 years only is better than subjecting many students/families to 9 years of it. The task force police rep, Captain Hayes, spoke movingly of the trouble that middle school kids tend to get into in the afternoons before their parents get home- this time is high risk for young teens, that can lead them on a path that is hard to get off of.

@reader 47- you wanted the survey results? You can see them here, in a power point- check out pages 27 and beyond. You can also see the transportation analysis, which really pretty poor.

(It does show how $3 million can be saved by balancing the two tier system; this same process should be done for the Modified FLip 1 and 2, which will show them to be money savers.)

I made a Public Records request for the full transportation data base and received it at the end of June. I'm still working my way through it-over 2500 routes, including 571 that have zero riders?; if anyone else would like a copy, please let me know.

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