Are You "Bracing" for New Bell Times?

That's what the Huffington Post thinks.  Maybe the schools are but it seems quiet on the parent front.  Have you talked to your high school kid about this?  Is it a smile or a shrug?


Anonymous said…
all smiles here with two secondary students. thank you to all who advocated for the change and the board who listened to the science.

no caps
Anonymous said…
We have a very happy high school student in our house. Not so happy elementary student moving from 9:30 to 7:55am. But they both leave the house at the same time now so parents are happy!

QA Parent
Anonymous said…
Father of a happy high-schooler.

Roosevelt Dad
SusanH said…
Happy new high schooler! And way happy parents who no longer have to drive him to the bus stop at 6:50 am. In the dark, in the rain. Uphill both ways.
Anonymous said…
Unhappy students in our house - not looking forward to 1) how late sports practices and afterschool activities will need to go (which means traveling home in the dark more often), and 2) being forced to stay up later to get homework done. Being early risers, they wonder if they can manage getting up early to get some school work done in the morning.

-lone voice
Eric B said…
Happy middle school parent here.
Anonymous said…
I am dreading it. My early elementary children both need around 12 hours a night of sleep. Getting up and leaving the house by 7:30 means my kids have to be in bed no later than 6:30 which is around the time their dad gets home from work. No more family dinners, and I will be fighting with them daily about time with dad, or their need for sleep. It is going to be a battle we fight all year and I know it's not going to end well, either way.
Where's Dad?
Anonymous said…
Happy new high schooler, miserable elementary schooler. Getting my fifth grader up an hour early is not going to be pleasant. Making sure she goes to bed an hour earlier is going to be impossible--especially when one of her after school activities will be from 7:45-8:45pm. Look, I'm all for teenagers getting the proper amount of rest, but who in their right minds over-generalized elementary school-aged kids LOVED getting up at the crack of dawn?
Michael Rice said…
This is another example of what really drives the district is the bus schedule. I wish we could start all schools at the time that is best for the students. If the grade schoolers need to start at 8:30 or 9:00 because that is what is best for them, then start at 8:30 or 9:00.

As a high school teacher, I was initially opposed, but as the summer has gone on and I have thought about it, I am now in favor of it. Starting an hour later will allow me to get a workout in before school and still get me to school in plenty of time to do any last minute copying or planning or grading. I will still work the same amount of time, it will just be shifted. I am very interested to see how it affects my first period class.
Anonymous said…
Very frustrated elementary school mom/family here. Our school is starting over 1.5 hours earlier to the 7:55 start. My kids are not early birds--never have been, and need 10-11 hours sleep. Expecting them to get to bed at 7-7:30pm to ensure they get enough sleep is completely asinine.

8:30 would've been a much better time. Such huge time swings to benefit some kids, while the rest are negatively impacted, is really short-sighted.

NE mom
Jan said…
-- lone voice, I was never an early bird, but I LIVED with a cousin who was. Her bus picked them up at 7; she was in bed every night by 7:00 or 7:30 -- and got up every morning at 3:30 or 4 to do her homework. She LOVED it. The house was stone quiet. The phone didn't ring (different era, but still . . .). She was well rested and alert. She learned early to manage her time estimates so that she had all her work done by the time the bus came (and she learned not to get distracted by silly stuff that would prevent her from staying on schedule).

If you have true early birds, I encourage them to try it. It can work really really well. Many very successful authors, composers, and other creative types use the same technique. They get up very early (when the world is asleep) and work a certain number of hours (or write a certain number of pages) when they are alert and not distracted. I imagine they also get to see some pretty spectacular sunrises (but alas, being a night owl, I wouldn't know that from experience).
Anonymous said…
Mixed.....we thought the early schedule would literally kill us and our middle/high schooler. Instead we were getting into work at 7:30am after dropping off our kid at the bus stop. It was a huge productivity boon to us! Now, switching to a later bell time will put us parents in the thick of rush hour traffic. There will also be less time for homework as we also have heavy after school athletic pressure. So we'll see how it goes.

Anonymous said…
Happy high schooler & happy parents. College student wondering why youngest gets all the good stuff. Thank you especially to Cindy Jatul, who never gave up.

-HS Parent
Anonymous said…
This is really bad policy for elementary school students to start an hour and a half earlier. I agree that the start time used to be too late, but even an 8:15 start time would have been much better. First bell will ring for line up at 7:50am. I imagine many who ride the bus will be doing so in the dark. Not much fun for kindergarten/first graders. Anyhow, I just think elementary school kids were completely disregarded with this new policy.

Anonymous said…
Ticked off middle-school early-bird in our house. I have suggested Jan's approach but she still thinks she'll have less time for homework.

Chris s.
Anonymous said…
Happy high school student - who is looking forward to thinking clearly in his classes now that he will be able to sleep longer. He's done poorly in 1st period classes since middle school and doesn't feel fully awake until at least 9 or 10 am.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
My middle- and high-school kids both have several extracurricular activities, which will now be pushed back later into the afternoon/evening. This will disrupt our family dinners and then force them to stay up later at night doing homework. I hardly see how they will get more/better sleep.

- Jet City Mama
ws said…
I have to say I find some of the comments from elementary parents amusing. I’m guessing most of them have a parent staying home. Many kids I know are up and out the door between 6:30 and 7 no matter what time school starts b/c the kids are in daycare.
Anonymous said…
@ws "I have to say I find some of the comments from elementary parents amusing. I’m guessing most of them have a parent staying home. Many kids I know are up and out the door between 6:30 and 7 no matter what time school starts b/c the kids are in daycare."

Incorrect for our household (and a bad overall generalization on your part)--both full-time working parents but with flexible schedules. Luckily, because we don't have get our kids up at the crack of dawn...well at least we hadn't up until this school year.

NE mom
ws said…
NE Mom- I didn't say everyone, just most.

My DH and I both have flexible jobs but we still need childcare. The reality is that many families don't have that flexibility and with the childcare shortage in the city I suspect its a pretty good percentage.
Not all elementaries have the same earlier schedule so I don't think all elementary parents are really unhappy. But for those who don't like the new early time, I can see how it would be met with discomfort.

What is apparent is that a two-tier system would probably make the overwhelming majority of parents happy but SPS can't afford it. Maybe with new McCleary dollars that can happy.

I have said before that I have not heard any discussion of what happens to dollars once they come in. Keep this topic in mind when they do.

Anonymous said…
@ws, we need childcare as well. Especially after school now that there's more time in the afternoon. But, like many families are finding, the programs are all waitlisted. We're really stuck.

It was easier to manipulate schedules with a 3:40 dismissal than it will be with a 2:05 dismissal. I know a lot of families that don't know what they will do.

Melissa, if you look at the list, only 9 elementary schools in the city are keeping their later start time. The rest all have moved to earlier start times, which is a lot of change. No, not all of the schools have the earlier start, but the vast majority do. I've talked with a mix of parents, some like it and some don't. We'll get used to it, but I still think it's short-sighted by the many decisions.

NE mom
Ann D said…
As WS has pointed out, there is a childcare shortage in this town. noticeably doesn't offer childcare benefits to its employees and they are squat in the middle of town and growing. Then the existing Community Alignment Partnership agreement between the school district and the City -- which funded most of the onsite childcare facilities around town -- is getting shoved aside in order to provide more capacity for existing elementaries and for the City's preschool initiative (no?)

SPS Community Alignment Initiative - Terms and Conditions

It is great for families to again get holding the bag when it comes to providing services for the next generation of humans. Some see having kids as an individual decision but in reality reproduction is essential toward advancing society as a whole and it is the collective responsibility of the whole community to provide for its youngest members.
Not amused said…
Late elementary family here. With a 9:40 start time, we are scrambling to find before school care. The on site is extremely full with a huge waitlist and most of the other facilities stopped offering morning care for K-5 due to the earlier bell times.
alex said…
Actually, husband and I both work FT, but could shuffle an 8:15 drop off (when there is supervision on the yard) and still make it to work on time. Thanks for your condescension, however. Our jobs start at 8:30 or 9, as most jobs do.
alex said…
Mom of a 2nd grader here, and I am still steaming about this bell time change. No one ever said that elementary school kids need LESS sleep. Little kids' brains are also developing (DUH) and they need as much sleep as possible. And saying that all kids are early risers is just silly. All kids are actually different. The two issues (bell times for HS & bell times for elementary kids) should never have been linked.

My son needs 11 hours of sleep per night. It's very hard to get that if you need to be at school for a 7:55 am bell time. I am going to have to wake him at 7 am, so that means bed by 8. Not possible on nights when he has practice and home work. Also, he loved to play on the playground before school with friends. For a high energy kid, or all kids, really, the before school supervised recess was essential. Now it will be dark several months a year for the 7:30 am supervised recess. How will that go?

@WS, actually, yes, both my husband and I work FT. No stay at home parent here. We used to be able to drop our son off at 8:15 and make it to work.

I don't like this change at all for my family. I made that known at every single forum and on every single survey the district ever did. SPS even admitted that West Seattle parents didn't want this change. We only have two high schools, and one already starts later. But, it was always a foregone conclusion that SPS was going to do this, IMO.

I think it's going to be a big mess for elem schools. And as a former teacher in two high poverty districts, I can say from experience that it's often the families with the biggest challenges at home that have a hard time getting their kids to school for an early start. I am curious of this will exacerbate tardiness problems for struggling families, and if the district will be paying attention to this.

Not happy at all...
Anonymous said…
Unhappy parents,

The length of the school day has not changed. There are still the same number of hours for extra curricula, eating, homework, sleeping.

During a student's years in SPS they will still have about half their years with earlier start & half with later start. The scenario that a student would have 13 years in SPS with the same start time was never the case. What has changed is, which of their years will be later starts. It was also never the case that students started at whatever time was best for their family. If so, my kids would have always started at the same time. It is generally harder for struggling families to get their teenagers to school early than to get their elementary kids there early.

I get that daycares, dance classes, & field schedules haven't caught up. That is not the fault of the district. The enrollment increases have contributed to the problem of onsite daycare more than the start time change.

Don't get too comfortable with any future vision of your child's experience in SPS. You'll be lucky to get as much warning of other major changes as there was in this case.

-almost done
Anonymous said…
I have never worked at a job that would let you could come in at 8:30 or 9. For the last 25 years, I have worked at jobs that started at 7 AM or 7:30 AM. When my kids were in elementary which started at 9 for Kindergarten and 8:30 for 1-8, I had to employ a babysitter to get the kids up and to school. The kids then stayed for after school care because I couldn't get there until 4 or 4:30 PM. Once the my oldest was in 6th grade, they would get up themselves and walk together to school. I would have loved an earlier start time in grade school. One of the reasons my youngest kid chose Hale was for the later start time, I think a lot of the teenagers will really appreciate the later start time.

Anonymous said…
Most of what I'm reading here from unhappy people stems from the fact that this complicates their personal routine and family situation. In this case, I am happy to survive a few years of awkward scheduling in my own family so that the majority of Seattle teenagers can have a healthier start time. So much science supports this change. In the mean time, I think 2 tiers would be a very good use of McLeary dollars, should they ever show up. And sports, childcare, additional services - all of that will adjust.

bigger picture
Anonymous said…
Actually, bigger picture, science also supports that younger children aged 5-12 need 9-12 hours of sleep depending on the child. It's not just older kids that need longer sleep. I'll have older kids soon and I know I'll appreciate this timing.

However, it was short-sighted by our district to change these times so drastically for elementary just because of costs. And that is the only reason--bussing costs.

NE mom
Anonymous said…
NE Mom, I know, my elementary children will be disrupted, and my youngest still sleeps 12 hours a night. I am a huge proponent of sleep and will do whatever I can to protect those 12 hours for as long as possible. Younger kids can shift those 9-12 hours. For older children, it's not that they need more hours of sleep, but that they need more sleep in the morning. They have a different circadian rhythm and morning sleep is far more restorative for them than an earlier bedtime would be. So we'll adapt and adjust our evening schedule as best we can because it's better for teenagers.

bigger picture
NE Mom, I think you are wrong on why they did this. This really isn't saving them money; it is about the science around later start times for teens. (I wish it was saving money.)
Anonymous said…
Melissa, yes, I know about the science behind the reasoning for the big shift and that this is not saving them money.

What I meant was the switch to such an early start for elementary is also due to the fact that costs for running busses any other way was too expensive. From what I read and heard, they had to tier the starts this way to bus in shifts, otherwise it cost too much money.

I think it's short-sighted to shift so early for elementary because doing it any other way is too costly for the district--and that is what I learned during the community input time/forums for this change. I'm not meaning it was the only reason, but one big factor in the huge shift of elementary start times was bussing costs.

NE mom

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