Bell Times/Transportation Update

I attended the Audit and Finance committee meeting this afternoon.  On the agenda was discussion around accepting funds from the City for the two-tiered transportation system.

Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, reported that she had attended the Families and Education Levy committee yesterday.

She stated:

- the Committee voted 4-3 to not to fund the two-tier transportation thru the Levy funds BUT said the City should fund this from another source of funding.  (McEvoy later told me that a good source for the funding might be from the revenue from the school zone cameras which has generated about $14M).

-  that the vote was only for the bus costs and not for another item, school crossing guards.  The guards will be funded and, apparently, with more dollars at about $400K which would fund up to 106 positions.  This funding would be coming from Traffic funding within the City.

- that there several issues from schools.  She noted that when the BAR for this item came to the Board, there might be several tweaks to it in addressing some of the issues that schools have noted.

For example, Loyal Heights, which is in Tier Two because it is at an interim site, has requested to be in Tier One when they return to their school.

As well, principals have been surveyed as well as polling by principals at their school communities on transportation issues.  (Anyone polled at their school by their principal?)

Director Harris, who chairs the Audit and Finance Committee, asked if transportation moved to two tiers and since the high schools uses fewer yellow buses, could student athletes access buses later (and stay in school longer)?  She noted that the district has been using private transportation buses for some athletes (something I had no idea was happening but I have seen these buses at Roosevelt and I wondered how much that was costing).

McEvoy stated that athletes would still miss 6th period but fewer would miss 5th period since Metro is, well, now mostly in the metro area.

One interesting thought from McEvoy is that some high schools that don't have sports complexes may start slightly earlier in order to get on afternoon buses for sports events on-time.  (That would mean that some high schools like Roosevelt, Garfield and West Seattle might start slightly earlier and end earlier.)

This all will involve some coordination with Parks concerning the joint-use agreement.  

Nate Van Duzer, Policy and Board Relations, who previously worked for CM Burgess noted that the Committee only recommends and the Council is not required to follow their recommendation.

Harris asked who on the Committee voted against the funding via the F&E levy funds.  McEvoy said she didn't know everyone on the Committe and was not sure but it was likely public record.

The Mayor was waiting for the Committee's recommendation and then his staff would be drafting the resolution.

Director Blanford asked if the urgency of a decision had been transmitted.  McEvoy said City Council President Harrell, who sits on the Levy Committee, had recused himself from the vote.  However he indicated that he was aiming for a June 7th date.  June 15th was noted as the "drop-dead" date for the district.  If the money does not come thru by then, the district will remain with three tiers.


Anonymous said…
Can someone please explain why high schoolers have to miss school at all in order to play high school sports? This makes zero sense. Is it because "away" games happen on school days only versus weekends? And because other school systems are on earlier dismissal schedules than SPS?

Meantime, I'm a parent rep on the BLT at my middle school. We've been stalled on several decisions due to the uncertainty around next year's schedule. How can schools design the master schedule and deal with the extra 20 minutes plus Wednesday early dismissals without knowing the start and end times for school? June seems way too late.

Any insights here?

--Concerned parent
Anonymous said…
It makes it difficult for students registering for Running Start classes. How do you plan around the school schedule when you don't know when the day starts or when lunch will be?

Anonymous said…
@ Concerned parent - High school athletes miss school because Parks controls the fields and students can't have access to the fields later on in the day. Also, taking metro to games takes too long and buses are not available or are expensive to rent.
The majority on the Levy Oversight Committee has made it clear that they view the Families and Education Levy primarily as a vehicle to impose corporate education reforms on SPS, using money as leverage. They're totally fine to spend money if it forces SPS to teach to a test. When it comes to a common-sense idea like the bell times plan - which is evidence-based, something the Levy Oversight Committee claims to care about - they suddenly get cold feet and claim that's not their mandate.

The City Council needs to reject this flawed view. We do need to know how the committee members voted. And we need the growing mayoral candidate field, as well as the candidates for City Council, to promise that when they propose a renewal of the Families and Ed Levy and the Preschool Levy next year, that they will pull it back away from Gates Foundation corporate ed reform, and will appoint a new Levy Oversight Committee that isn't stacked with corporate ed reform hacks.
Concerned Parent, I believe the missing school is only for game days (someone help me out if I am mistaken). As well, I think most of the football/basketball games are on Friday nights. SPS doesn't have enough buses to take everyone home AND get athletes to games on-time so the athletes leave school earlier to make a schedule.

It is better than it used to be because SPS in part of Metro which is largely in Seattle (as opposed to having to cross over to Bellevue/Northshore, etc.)

What I found kinda funny is that the district won't listen to parents about concerns over two tier bell times for almost any reason but hey, if it's about athletes, well then you have their attention. While this may work out better for some other students, it seems an odd reasoning if academics is the main thing. But this is the United States and that should explain it.

I totally concur with Robert. The F&E Levy committee needs a big shakeup and may get it via a new mayor (and I note yet another two candidates - Jesslyn Farrell and Jenny Durkan - I can't wait to interview all these people).

Here are the members of the committee:

Mayor Ed Murray
Bruce Harrell, City Council
Larry Nyland, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent
Betty Patu, Seattle School Board member
Phyllis Campano, citizen representative
Hueiling Chan, citizen representative
Sandi Everlove, citizen representative
Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis, citizen representative
Cristina Gonzalez, citizen representative
Saadia Hamid, citizen representative
Ruth Kagi, citizen representative
Erin Okuno, citizen representative
Shouan Pan, citizen representative
Kevin Washington, citizen representative
Greg Wong, citizen representative
Allison Wood, citizen representative

I am checking to see who was in attendance besides the seven who voted and President Harrell (who did not vote).

Here's who voted against using levy funds for the funding of two-tier transportation:

Lucy Gaskill-Gaddis, citizen representative
Erin Okuno, citizen representative
Saadia Hamid, citizen representative
Greg Wong, citizen representative

I recognize three of the names. Mr. Wong is/was the head of the group that works for passage of SPS levies and bonds, Schools First.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
alex said…
I attended the two hour ed levy oversight meeting on Tuesday, and I found the presentation that SPS gave to the board to have missed the key issue: starting tier 1 schools at 7:45 am is a major equity issue.

Here's my argument, which has gotten no air time from SPS to date, as far as I can tell:

There is a huge equity issue around starting schools at the crack of dawn at the tier 1 schools and the impact on low-income kids getting to school on time. This issue has received little or no attention in the discussion to date.

Tardies at my son's school (33% FRL, so not a rich school) increased 101% in the first few months of this school year vs. last. Starting school ten minutes earlier next is the wrong way to go. SPS needs to fully analyze the change in the # of tardies this school year vs last, especially at schools with FRL > 25%. I would also be interested to know if these schools are serving fewer FRL breakfasts, because kids that are late are not getting breakfast at school, which they need. As I said, I have heard nothing about the equity issues that starting school at 7:45 will present for low-income kids, both in terms of getting to school & getting their breakfast. Starting earlier is a big step in the wrong direction.

I taught elementary school for five years in the lower 9th ward of New Orleans and in South LA. Equity is near & dear to my heart, and the kids whose families are the most at risk at the ones who will have a harder & harder time getting to school on time if we keep going in this direction, and this issue has gotten short shrift.

I am sick & tired of talking about this issue, and SPS did not do a good job of making their case to the oversight committee on Tuesday night, IMO.
Anonymous said…
The schedule shift doesn't have to mean everything that works now will be lost. Many things would just need to shift a little to accommodate a change. Regarding your specific concerns:

1. Can't they just schedule the games for a little later?
2. Having a mix of both before- and after-school activities in a school might help make more room for them, and would also provide more opportunities for students who have conflicts in either the AM or PM.
3. Why can't students revise their work schedules? If you hire a student, and their school gets later, aren't you likely to adjust? Also students might have new opportunities to work in the AM.
4. That might be offset by less traffic in the AM. Plus, there have always been students getting out late (e.g., many elementary students). As for students participating in afterschool clubs and activities getting home late, that's always been the case, too. There have always been students with long practices, commutes to practices, students in schools with later starts/dismissals who also had extracurriculars, etc. It might be shifting more of the burden to high school students than before, but some might argue they are better able to handle it. If they do club sports that use public fields, their practices are already much later in the evening.
5. Yes.
6. Why does it have to benefit all groups? That's an unreasonably high bar. If it has tremendous benefit to tier 3 families, with only minimal negative impact to tier 2 families, and probably a little additional positive impact to current tier 1 families (not quite so early), sounds good to me! And just because a 9:30 start wasn't a problem or your family doesn't mean it isn't/wasn't for many others.
7. Maybe because they are dealing with more kids in each of the tiers, so it'll take a little longer?
8. Ok, so you like the current 8:45 start for high schools. Glad for you. But many of those with the 7:55 find it too early, and an additional 10 minutes earlier would be that much harder. What time do you think a first grader would need to go to bed to be able to get up in time for a bus that arrives at school at 7:30am? If they get up at 6am to get ready and make it to the bus stop, and if they need 11 hours of sleep, that means getting to sleep by 7pm (so starting bedtime process sooner). How much time will parents actually have with their kids if they pick them up from childcare, feed them, then immediately put them to bed? It's already a challenge. f we can make it a little easier instead of a little harder, that's a good thing.

big pic
Anonymous said…
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I have emailed the school board emails, the mayor, and the arrival times email to get more info about this issues. No response. It would have been nice to know it was going to be discussed at a meeting.
I am a high school parent very opposed to the new bus schedule. Here is why.
1.Other school districts get out much earlier. For SPS students to attend games/meets out of the district they may have to miss up to THREE periods of school with the proposed 2 tier plan. Are students going to have to choose to not do sports so they may receive academic instruction?
2.Activities & Clubs may have to happen in the am or may not be able to be scheduled. At Ballard High School right now, EVERY morning before school already is booked with music groups. Even the stage is used to hold class and when the stage isn't available, they practice in the halls. Moving all clubs and groups to afterschool wouldn't work from a space issue. Seattle Music Partners program is projected to be canceled if this plan is approved.
3. It may be difficult for students to get to jobs with a later release time. This is a real issue.
4.Students will be released during higher traffic times which leads to longer commute times. Students that go to afterschool music or clubs would be trying to get home around 5pm or later. Rush hour. Has the school board worked this out with Metro?
5. A 15 minutes later start doesn't sound so bad until you factor in the additional 20 minutes of the school day the teachers voted on. So, that means all current secondary dismissal times would be 35 minutes later than this year. 3:50 dismissal.

6.The proposed 2 Tier system seem to benefit elementary schools with a later start time and no Tier 3 arrivals after 9am. How does it benefit middle and high schools?
My kids elementary school didn’t start until 9:30 for years. It was not ideal, but it was never considered a big enough problem for the district to change the entire system and million of dollars.
7.The current 3 Tier system has 50 minutes between tiers and the 2 Tier has 60. Why? That’s 10 more minutes that secondary schools could be starting earlier and getting out earlier.
8.Why 8 am and 9 am? Why not 7:45 and 8:45? I understand the earlier time for elementary families has been a challenge. It hasn’t even been ONE year on the flip of start times.
Maybe give some time to adjust before more changes?
Thank you SOS for opening this thread. I hope to learn more about this issue.

5/12/17, 7:46 AM

-NP reposting for anonymous
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...
The schedule shift doesn't have to mean everything that works now will be lost. Many things would just need to shift a little to accommodate a change. Regarding your specific concerns:

1. Can't they just schedule the games for a little later?
No, they can't re-schedule. Parks controls the fields and the fields go to the community after 5:00 pm or so.

2. Having a mix of both before- and after-school activities in a school might help make more room for them, and would also provide more opportunities for students who have conflicts in either the AM or PM.
A start time of 9:00 am doesn't give much time for other activities (like a job) and the AM is usually considered zero period and allocated for music.

3. Why can't students revise their work schedules? If you hire a student, and their school gets later, aren't you likely to adjust? Also students might have new opportunities to work in the AM.
Really, very few student jobs end by 9:00 am. Employers are not likely to adjust their start times to hire students.

4. That might be offset by less traffic in the AM. Plus, there have always been students getting out late (e.g., many elementary students). As for students participating in afterschool clubs and activities getting home late, that's always been the case, too. There have always been students with long practices, commutes to practices, students in schools with later starts/dismissals who also had extracurriculars, etc. It might be shifting more of the burden to high school students than before, but some might argue they are better able to handle it. If they do club sports that use public fields, their practices are already much later in the evening.
This new 2 tier proposal with the additional minutes added to the school day just makes things worse fro MS/HS students.

5. Yes.

6. Why does it have to benefit all groups? That's an unreasonably high bar. If it has tremendous benefit to tier 3 families, with only minimal negative impact to tier 2 families, and probably a little additional positive impact to current tier 1 families (not quite so early), sounds good to me! And just because a 9:30 start wasn't a problem or your family doesn't mean it isn't/wasn't for many others.

7. Maybe because they are dealing with more kids in each of the tiers, so it'll take a little longer?

8. Ok, so you like the current 8:45 start for high schools. Glad for you. But many of those with the 7:55 find it too early, and an additional 10 minutes earlier would be that much harder. What time do you think a first grader would need to go to bed to be able to get up in time for a bus that arrives at school at 7:30am? If they get up at 6am to get ready and make it to the bus stop, and if they need 11 hours of sleep, that means getting to sleep by 7pm (so starting bedtime process sooner). How much time will parents actually have with their kids if they pick them up from childcare, feed them, then immediately put them to bed? It's already a challenge. f we can make it a little easier instead of a little harder, that's a good thing.
Van't we just get ride of the ridiculous extra 20 minutes in the school day and the early release. None of these change accomplish anything and we just fritter away instructional time.

big pic

5/12/17, 9:19 AM
Anonymous said…
For years and years, SPS operated on a 2 Tier schedule with MS/HS starting around 8 and ES starting around 9. How I miss it.

old days
Anonymous said…
Why is 8 or 8:15 too early for high school? I started at 7:30 when I was in high school and it was too early for my biorhythms, but 8:15 would have been nice. Start em at 8:15, start elementary at 9:05, then my elementary student can get on the bus at 8:20 or be dropped at before care on the days I need it, and everyone will get the sleep they need.

Two birds
Anonymous said…
Two birds-"Why is 8 or 8:15 too early for high school?" Because after years of research, we understand teen biorhythms. The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a statement that high schools not start before 8:30 AM. 9:05 can work for elementary, but it is also pretty late for many families. Before school care can be VERY difficult to find (harder than after school care, in many cases). -TeacherMom
Jumbo Bear said…
I can't believe the schedules of 53,000 Seattle students and their families and their employers and their childcare providers are being dictated by:
1. The teachers' union being allowed to add 20 minutes to the school day four days a week and take away an hour every single frickin' Wednesday.
2. not enough buses to get kids to school and home in 2 tiers without the city propping up this muck storm
3. not enough fields for athletes to do sports on and not enough hours of access to the fields they do do sports on

Do you notice anything missing from all those? Academics and kids, right? Is anyone paying attention to academics or kids in this equation?

We've only got 3,000 or so teachers. But their work schedules have to dictate moving the end-of-school release time 20 minutes later four days a week? The reason high school athletes are being squeezed is the teachers' union. The reason high school athletes are being squeezed is their cushy super early Wednesday release. Why don't they just play their games on Wednesdays???

And what's with the bus shortage? The state is supposed to be paying for school transportation costs. We got rid of our bus-everyone-all-over-everywhere SAP several years ago. So we really shouldn't need that many buses now, right? Why do we need so many more buses than we have? And why aren't we going after the state for the money for this? If Bellevue can sue over not enough lunch time, why can't we sue over not enough school buses? Or not enough schools so that kids can go to school closer and not need a bus?

OK, and not enough athletic fields? The district is going to collapse onto its knees because of that? That doesn't even have anything to do with school for crying out loud. Why aren't we doing sports that we have the environment to do? If our high schools don't have access to fields, we can't be having football or baseball or soccer teams. I mean, we're not insisting on ocean-going outrigger canoe teams are we? It's Seattle. Why don't we do sports that we have the equipment to do? Or, alternatively, we could renegotiate when the Parks department lets us use the fields. But it seems obvious that if school gets out at 3:50, then the after-school rush at the cafes or other places students might get after school jobs would be shifted to happen after school gets out. And if the buses take high school students to watch athletic games, obviously the buses are going to have to wait until after school gets out to take the students to the games. So while small numbers of competing athletes may have to miss a class now and then for games that can't be scheduled on Wednesday early release days, all the other games could just be scheduled 35 minutes later. Right?

I can't believe no one is talking about kids and their families in this whole debate. WTF, Seattle?
Anonymous said…
I also emailed several board members and SPS staff. They all responded they would get beck to me after summer break. Really that's what we are paying for?

Tic Toc
Anonymous said…
Amen, Jumbo Bear. Amen.

Mag mom
Anonymous said…
I agree completely, big pic.

Mag mom
alex said…
Jumbo Bear: I could not agree more. "Do you notice anything missing from all those? Academics and kids, right? Is anyone paying attention to academics or kids in this equation?"

This is why I am so frustrated that I haven't heard anything about the impact of the earlier bell time (this school year) on the number of kids arriving late to school.

At my son's school that # went up by 101% in the first four months of school vs. last year. That's insane. And now they want to start school 10 minutes earlier next year?????

Kids don't learn when they are not in school. Period. Starting school 10 minutes earlier will exacerbate this problem.

7:40 is when the first bell will ring at tier 1 elementary schools next year (without action from the council to allocate the one time funds to get to two tiers). 7:40 is when the kids need to line up with their classes in order to be in their classes by 7:45 am. Back up from there, and think about what time people need to leave the house/wait for a school bus/eat/wake up, etc. to make that happen. It's not ok.

Can anyone say this spike in tardies is good for kids and their learning? Has the district done any analysis on the impact on tardies at the title 1 schools? Why is this not part of the discussion? There are several thousand kids at tier 1 elementary schools. Their experiences, and the experiences of their families, needs to be part of this conversation.

Starting school 10 minutes earlier next year @ tier 1 schools is not ok.
Big Pic;
- Are students going to have to choose to not do sports so they may receive academic instruction?" Maybe. Schools do exist for academics and allegedly everything else should come second.
- It may be difficult for students to get to jobs with a later release time." Yes, and see my previous answer. I absolutely support kids having jobs for many reasons but time and money drive bell times/transportation. Something may have to give.
- "How does it benefit middle and high schools?" Well, you may have missed the years of discussion and documentation about the benefits of a later start time for adolescents.

As for the actual times for school starts, TELL THE BOARD. Tell the Superintendent. Be active parents and say that the district and the teachers CANNOT be the only stakeholders. Parents and students should have some voice in this.

TicToc, which Board members did you write to? I'd like to see those e-mails because that seems quite odd that they would not be able to respond until after summer break. Please forward them to me at

Jumbo Bear, I have said repeatedly that academics are why schools exist. If the district cannot make all these moving parts work, then maybe something has to give.

Alex is right about the district looking into the tardies and probably absences as well before any change.

Lastly, you cannot please everyone. But I do not think bell times should be based on activities not directly related to academics nor should they be based so that a small percentage of students activities.
Anonymous said…
I'm unclear on where things stand now.

Who makes the decision as to whether SPS actually moves to 2 tiers?
Who decides what those 2 tiers will be?
Who decides when and where school teams compete?
Has SPS offered up ANY evidence that the families they serve support a weekly Wednesday early release?
If Wednesday really was driven by the union, what's the rationale for going with Wednesday versus the day the majority of families supported for early release? (Seems a dumb strategic move on the union's part when they relied on Soup for Teachers and an upswell of support from parents and families to support their strike to then turn around and kick families to the curb.)
Is it up to individual schools to figure out how to incorporate the extra 20 minutes a day? If so, how are most schools dealing with this?

The information vacuum and lack of strategy and coordination is just unbelieveable on this.

---Concerned Parent
Anonymous said…
Not sure I follow this:

Seattle Parks and Recreation controls the athletic fields attached to Seattle Public Schools' high schools (e.g. Roosevelt, Ingraham, Garfield)? Or is NP talking about CITY fields that are under Parks and Rec control?

Thanks for anyone who can clarify.

--Concerned parent

Anonymous said…
And who are the "corporate ed reform" members of the F&E levy committee? Specifics please as to what would give them that moniker?

Concerned parent
The decision is SPS'; however, what that decision will be is dependent on if the City Council authorizes the Mayor's request to spend dollars to fund a two-tier system. As my thread says, if that does not happen, SPS stays at three tiers.

Who decides what those tiers will be? I'd say staff and the teachers union and the principals association. The Board will weigh in but, in the end, I doubt they will go against staff's recommendation. They are never given all the data they need (like, as Alex says, the data on tardies since the changes).

I wish parents and students had a real voice but I doubt their concerns will be included in the thinking by staff.

I think the survey that was done on early release said parents preferred Friday afternoon but not staff. As for if it's needed, I think it's a best practice to be doing so.

The 20 minutes a day seems to be in some no-information zone. I was speaking with one director this week and told that person that high school issues - the reopening of Lincoln and new boundaries, the extra 20-minutes, the 24-credits, etc. - need a point-person in SPS to be looking at all the moving parts AND the big picture. There is currently no such person.

The joint use agreement with Parks allows some SPS fields to be used by other groups just as some Parks fields are used by SPS sports. It goes both ways.
Helpless Parent said…
@Concerned parent,

SPS decides if it moves to 2 tiers. They want to make this move, but need funding to do so. The city of Seattle may give them money. SPS needs to know by June 15. Seattle says it will decide by June 8. If the city doesn't give SPS the money, it seems like we can't afford to switch to 2 tiers. Pretty much even if the 3 tiers screwed with the physical and mental health of the 53,000 children in the district, no one would change anything. Because SPS does not care about children. And politicians don't care about children (they don't vote or donate $). And teachers demonstrably do care about children, but their union promotes teachers' working hour interests over the interests of children because it's a teachers' union and that's what unions do. And there's no children's union. Because children aren't unionized. Because no one cares about children.

SPS has already decided when the two tiers will be. If there are two tiers. And when the three tiers will be. If there are three tiers.

SPS has offered evidence that families do NOT want early release on Wednesdays. But it's more convenient for principals and staff to have teachers meet on Wednesday afternoons than it is on Friday afternoons when principals and staff could be cutting out early for the weekend or playing golf or whatever people who make over $100,000 dollars do with a Friday afternoon off.

Individual schools don't get to decide when they start or end the day. The district decides that. They had to add 20 minutes to 4 days a week next year and decided to add 10 minutes to the beginning of the day and 10 minutes to the end of the day. And then the teachers' union forced one day of early release PER WEEK.
Thanks Melissa for that update and for listing out which members of the committee voted against spending this money. I'm not surprised to hear, via Alex, that SPS made a poor presentation. But those four members who voted no tend to be the closest aligned to Gates Foundation corporate education reform. I'm not surprised they didn't see any value in addressing this issue, despite all the evidence showing that start times have a significant impact on schools.

Remember this at election time. We need a mayor who will clean house and reorient the Families and Education Levy away from Gates Foundation policy and delink funding from testing.
Anonymous said…
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends many things for student health, including recess, PE, and other school-based physical activity (school sports...). We've heard about later start times for teens, ad nauseam, but times need to be balanced with other recommendations around physical and emotional well being (which all support learning). How can one latch onto the later start time research, yet blithely dismiss recommendations on physical activity/sports?

...Children and youth spend most of their waking hours at school, so the availability of regular physical activity in that setting is critical.
...The National Association of State Boards of Education recommends 150 minutes per week of PE for elementary students and 225 minutes per week for middle and high school students.
...Among the most difficult but most important challenges for society are making exercise alternatives as attractive, exciting, and enjoyable as video games for children, convincing school boards that PE and other school-based physical activity opportunities are as important to long-term productivity as are academics

from "Active Healthy Living: Prevention of Childhood Obesity Through Increased Physical Activity"

-whole child
Anonymous said…
When is the City Council meeting when they hear testimony and vote on whether or not to give the funding support? Is SPS ready to make this happen should the money come in?

Wishing Well
wishing for early start, no early release. said…
hey Jumbo Bear-

Please don't blame the teachers. As a whole, I know one teacher in my high school who likes the new times. We were not asked. And zero that I know like the early release on Wednesday/ longer day. Though some students may get more sleep, many more do not benefit from this overall- sports, sibling care, academics.
Lynn said…
Helpless Parent,

I agree with you except for the part where you said They had to add 20 minutes to 4 days a week next year. That's in the SEA contract but from what I hear it was the district that demanded the change. There's no reason they couldn't have insisted on a weekly staff meeting on Wednesday after the end of the regular school day.

whole child,

Absolutely physical activity is important for every student's health. That doesn't mean we should allow school sports (which benefit a very small percentage of our students) to determine the school schedule. Instead, it's a very good reason to offer a variety of fun PE classes during the school day and as zero period and after school classes. The district could kill two birds with one stone by cutting all spending for sports next year and using that money to pay for transportation so that every student has a reasonable start time. That would bring new attention to our funding problems and new pressure on the legislature.
I can put academics before athletics because PE is part of an academic program. I think in-school activities like arts and PE are easier to provide than off-site activities.

I'm not against athletics - far from it. But I don't like this idea that the district would change start times for some high schools based on that.

Wishing Well, as I wrote in my thread (and it would be helpful if readers read the posts before commenting), the Mayor's staff has to write a recommendation that the City Council will then vote on. It appears this all will not happen before June 7th but parents certainly could advocate to the Council to fast-forward this effort.

Teachers don't like the Wednesday early release day but their union leadership does? Hmm.

Anonymous said…
Why can't HS have a schedule independent of buses?
I understand special ed kids need transportation, who else uses yellow buses in HS?
Keep the two tiers for MS and ES and let HS set their own schedule according to their population.
I mean, wasn't the SAP supposed to cut transportation costs with everyone attending their neighborhood school?
Anonymous said…
Simply shorten the school day. Let teachers teach academics. A four-hour or maybe five-hour day and an hour of planning time. Less fluff. Send them home or to daycare. Get back to basics. That would solve a lot of problems.

mom and teacher
Lynn said…

High school schedules can't be set independent of buses. How do you suggest we transport special education students?
Anonymous said…
My question is whether transportation requirements for special ed students are such that they can't be accommodated in a way that allows HS to set their schedule separate from MS and ES. I feel like the bulk of yellow buses needed are for all MS not special ed HS. Does it make sense?
I really think 2 tiers works best and that ES should start at a decent time not the ridiculous Tier 1 and 3 proposals.
MS students I feel have the most flexible.
Anonymous said…
How did Hale manage transportation in the past when they were the only HS with a decent start time?
Maybe we can get some ideas there.
Lynn said…
Here's the latest district transportation report:

As an example, I looked at West Seattle High School. There are eight buses serving WSHS. If I recall correctly, our cost for each bus is over $60,000. Scheduling WSHS in a manner that wouldn't allow the buses to serve another tier would cost $480,000 - the equivalent of the cost of salary and benefits for almost five teachers.
Incredulous, that's a fair question. I really like Operations superintendent, Pegi McEvoy, but I have never seen real data on the breakdown of student transportation. Like:

- how many students take Metro
- how many walk/bike to school
- how many students get to school via a car (whether they drive or not)

I'm sure the number who take the yellow bus to high school is available.

But if the issue over bus schedules really is about the need for yellow bus service for Spec Ed students, why not do it privately? I mean, the district has shown it will pay for private buses for athletes; I'd be willing to bet there are fewer high school Sped students.

I wish the Board would ask for this info and make it available.
Lynn said…
In the winter count, 20,840 students were using district-provided transportation. 13,550 were on buses, 159 were riding buses from walk areas (so not state funded) and 7,449 were riding Metro. 2,296 special education students rode buses, plus 258 ELL students, 2,459 gifted students, 46 homeless students and 294 early education students.

Our 752 routes and 348 buses break down this way:
254 routes (141 buses) for basic education students
388 routes (193 buses) for special education students
11 routes (11 buses) for ELL students
54 routes (53 buses) for gifted students
2 routes (2 buses) for homeless students
43 routes (40 buses) for early education students
Great work but I'd like to find out the high school breakdown.
Jumbo Bear said…
Ok, counting from Lynn's linked file above, the high schools have the following numbers of buses:
Cleveland 4 basic ed
Sealth 3 basic ed + 8 sped
West Seattle 1 basic ed + 7 sped
Garfield 8 gifted + 5 sped
Ballard 7 sped
Franklin 5 sped
Roosevelt 5 sped
Ingraham 10 sped
Rainier Beach 5 sped
Nathan Hale 7 sped

So that would be 75 high school buses. Although presumably mostly the smaller sped buses...
Melinda said…
A relevant piece of information related to the number of buses is - how many kids are on the bus? My high schooler is in a yellow bus ride zone, but very few kids are on the bus (basic ed). Even if the district provided Orca cards for all the students eligible for that bus, it would not come anywher close to 60K annually (the cost per bus cited in reference to West Seattle HS).

I am also at a loss, why the high schoools are so tied to the other schools schedule -- however I am surprised to see the number of spec ed buses per school, and didn't realize it was that high.
Lynn said…
Ballard's seven buses make a total of 21 stops. I don't know if most special education students are picked up at their homes or if they are picked up at community stops. The average number of students per special education route for the entire district is six.
Anonymous said…
Keep in mind that not all areas are well served by Metro. With the addition of light rail, there are even fewer Metro routes. Even though MS/HS students are expected to walk further, middle schools and high schools have a larger geographic draw than elementary. Without bus service, it would be an 80 minute walk to school for our kids. Also, for safety reasons, some schools have more limited walk zones.

-bus dependent
Jumbo Bear said…
The sped high schoolers in my neighborhood are picked up and dropped off at their houses. And the sped routes tend to use the short, little buses, so it makes sense that they have an average of 6 riders.

So even though there are maybe a surprisingly large number of sped routes going to some of the high schools, we're not talking that many students. I didn't see anywhere in that linked file where it spelled out the number of students going to high schools by school bus.

On my elementary child's bus, some of the stops have one student get on. Some of the stops have about 15 riders get on. So I don't think the number of stops is very helpful for telling us how many riders are on the buses.
Rhea said…
So, elementary schools, middle schools and K-8 schools are using the majority of buses. Not really high schools. It's puzzling why high school scheduling has to have anything to do with the scheduling of the younger students' schools.
Anonymous said…
What does the data show for middle schoolers? Do they need to sleep in, or does the biorhythm need/issue kick in during high school?

Looking 4Options
Anonymous said…
Lynn's link provides an interesting snapshot
Jumbo Bear, I think you are counting routes which is not exactly buses, because at least theoretically one bus should be able to cover the arrival and departure from school. But once you look at buses per se some of them do two trips (7013) while others do three (7032).
Is it possible that WMS and GHS are sharing the bus for gifted students? I have no problem with that, from the table it seems to be the case.
What is the arrangement that Ingraham students have for IB? I know students in the NE take buses at specific stops in the morning such as in front of Eckstein, is that paid separately? Not considered yellow bus? And what about the taxis? There are so many taxis in front of Jane Addams for example, is that considered in this document?
Schools like Lakeside and Evergreen have agreements with Metro, couldn't we do that for Garfield gifted busing (I assume those buses come from West Seattle)?
I'm sure there are cheaper options or more efficient ones. And I hope someone is trying to find them. And yes, it would be nice if that someone was also taking into account the changes that are coming the following year.
If I were a member of SEA, I would request to delay the implementation of the weekly meetings by one year, but I'm not.
Anonymous said…
Jumbo Bear, None of the teachers I know wanted to add the extra 20 minutes or the weekly early release. Talk to the district. We could have stayed on strike longer to protest that issue, but it seemed like we had already been out longer than most people wanted. Don't blame the teachers. Blame the district.
Also, I don't know why high school can't do 8:00 or 8:15 and elementary do later. 8:00 is pretty close to 8:30. At least students get more sleep than a 7:30 start and afternoons aren't so late. This school year, it's all about high school. They got what they wanted and elementary got the sucky schedule. Next year, it is reversed. Why can't we find a middle ground? Talking to you sleep people who aren't willing to compromise on an 8 am time for high school.
Compromise is good
Cindy Jatul said…
Speaking as a HS teacher, HS parent, union rep and someone who actively advocated for later MS and HS start time for years, I believe the two tier option is the optimal solution and we should get behind pushing the city for a one time allocation of the $2.3 million it will take to get us the additional busses to get there. I served on the bell time task force and the imlplementation task force and can say that there aren't numerous options for how transportation can set up a bus schedule. At this point it's either we stick with our current 3 tier system, which I believe is good for tier 2, but too early for tier 1 and too late for tier 3. As the bell time task force we advocated for two tiers so that younger students could start earlier and adolescents later. We were stuck with 3 tiers due to costs constraints.

This all gets messy because we as teachers accepted a longer day in our contract negotiations in 2015. First we were asked to work an additional 30 mins without compensation. The compromise was compensation for additional 20 mins. Many of us have questioned the rationale but SPS would not back down on extended day in bargaining. So please don't blame teachers for the extended day! We didn't ask for it. What we have wanted was control over how the 20 minutes will be used for collaborative work. Personally I have long been opposed to the 20 minute extension, but it's a reality for next year since SEA agreeded to it in 2015.

We need two tiers NOW, with 8 and 9 start times, otherwise tier 1 will move to a 7:45 start time with 7:30 bus drop offs and tier 3 will end 10 minutes later (since we will extend by 20 by all going 10 earlier and staying 10 later). A few HS may be allowed to start earlier if they don't have a sports complex to provide time to get to games. But that's it. These are the options, keep 3 tiers with 10 min earlier starts and 10 minute later dismissals for all. Or we get the money from the city so we can move to a much more fair and healthy two tier system. Email city council and the mayor. The ball is in their court to allocate $2.3 million or not. Given that they take in millions in speed zone fines, they should be able to do this and get us to two tiers.
I'm not sure 8 am really addresses the issue of more sleep for adolescents (and yes, sleep changes start in middle school for some).

This will certainly be interesting to watch play out.
Anonymous said…
My children are not getting more sleep. They just aren't. What's most frustrating is the seeming refusal to acknowledge the flip was ill timed or worse, not a net improvement.

sleep deprived
Anonymous said…
With an 8:45 start (vs the old 7:50 start) I am still dragging my high schooler out of bed in the morning. Why? Because her after school time is shorter so she is up much later trying to get everything done. On top of that, both my middle schooler and high schooler are either at school much later or more days a week for after school activities to make up for the less amount of PM hours after school. If they change to 2 tiers, it is inevitable that there will be more activities in the morning which will wipe out the "teen" advantage of age appropriate start times.

Agree with Sleep Deprived
Lynn said…
Actually, according to the March 24th Friday Memo, more students are getting adequate sleep.

The Healthy Youth Survey, based upon the October 2016 results, has recently been released. One question on the survey relates to the amount of sleep our teenagers are getting. The news is definitely positive for Seattle. As you can see from the data below, Washington State students are reporting that they are sleeping less as compared to the 2014 survey data, yet our Seattle School District students are reporting that they are sleeping more! The most significant positive change has occurred with our 10th graders with a double digit gain of 12%.

This is from page 71. You can find the Friday Memos here:
Anonymous said…
...a survey done only a month into the new times? I look forward to additional analysis. What about elementary students??

The memo also states, Additionally, we are working with the University of Washington and Children’s Hospital to help analyze first semester data. Because of the 2016-17 bell times flip, this probably will become a national story as many communities are watching the impacts of the School Board’s policy work.

Anonymous said…
@ Agree with Sleep Deprived, if your kids are doing a lot of after school activities, and are conscientious about doing their homework, it's not surprising they aren't getting more sleep. If the things they need/want to do take up too much time, there's not extra time for sleep. The real question is whether students who are not over-scheduled are now better able to get adequate sleep.

SusanH said…
Wait, there are 8 school buses for Garfield HCC students?? That's news to me! My child has to take a Metro bus to the light rail to another Metro bus to get to Garfield. It takes an hour. Agree with someone else above who pointed out that high school students often have to travel farther for school than the elementary kids, who are more likely to attend one of their neighborhood elementary schools.
Susan, well, there are no "neighborhood" high schools so naturally kids will have travel further to get to their high school.

Also, just to note, the state pays for HCC transportation so that is not part of the funding equation.
Lynn said…
SusanH - there's only one HCC bus for Garfield that doesn't also stop at Washington. I wonder if that comes from Queen Anne - it makes 18 stops in 5.53 miles. High school students only ride the yellow bus if there's space available on a middle school bus or if there is no workable Metro route. If your student comes from the Southeast Region you might check with transportation to see if there's a WMS bus they can ride in the morning. (The middle school buses don't pick up at Garfield in the afternoon.)
SusanH said…
No, no, it's totally cool. We don't need a yellow bus. I was just surprised to see that there were some on the Garfield list above! I had no idea...

Anonymous said…
Mmm... so if HCC is covered by the state, then there are only 67 buses for HS (and 295 for the whole district). Can we really not find a way to pay for those 67 buses and have a decent schedule for every kid in ES, MS and HS?
Anonymous said…
At our middle school tardies and discipline issues are both way down with the new schedule. Remember that getting enough sleep improves the grades and mental health of adolescents, we can't lose sight of that. It's fine if some kids play sports or do orchestra before school, as long as it's optional. Kids who are barely hanging in there can really benefit from the reasonable start time. Anecdotally, the sleep of our entire family has improved.

eighth grade
alex said…
Again, I am hearing very little here about sleep deprivation, tardies and absenteeism among the tier 1 Elementary schools for this year. How can the district even consider starting school one second earlier at those schools (and I think there are 15-20) until the have analyzed the data & assessed the impact of the earlier start times, this year, on these schools. I am shocked that this hasn't been done yet, and it was not part of the presentation at the levy meeyong. This is not how good policies are made.
Anonymous said…
What would it look like if instead of going to two tiers, they just added the 20 minutes to the end of the day, for a secondary end time of 3:35 (earlier than 3:50) and everyone keeps the same start time they have now? It at least avoids pushing the elementaries to an earlier time for the second time in as many years. Perhaps the levy money could instead be used to move the 3rd tier elementaries to the 1st tier if they would prefer.

eighth grade
Anonymous said…
@ eighth grade, tier 4 would then get out after 4pm.
Anonymous said…
Exactly, Alex.

My 1st grader attends a tier 1 school and he's literally tardy 4 days a week, if not 5. I think 50 percent of the class is consistently late. I don't think our school is even keeping track anymore because the problem is so rampant. 10 minutes earlier next year is just insane. But, I guess if everyone in tier 1 schools just collectively decided NOT to get their kids to school until 8amand the new dismissal is at 2:15 I guess that wouldn't be that big of a problem. But the early release every Wednesday is such a waste.

Mag mom
Anonymous said…
The weekly early release days are a national trend. As usual, Seattle is late getting on the train.

My opinion, from the trenches, is that, yes, it is a total waste--of time, taxpayer dollars and energy. They often put you into "professional learning communities" to talk about "data" or you do "horizonal and vertical planning" (aka meet with your own grade level and others) or you discuss "formative or summative assessment" (aka the pre-, during or post-instruction tests you're giving). Jargon on steriods.

It's all an attempt to get on the bandwagon to "look" like you are staying "current". IMO, if you want to be a "profession" so desperately, try instead acting on Dan Danaher's mantra--actually apply relevant data intelligently--instead of going through the charade of "playing" smart people, like children "play school".

Any sane person with an iota of common sense can see that this is B.S. The time to do some "check off the box" activities could occur during a "professional development" day. Upsetting the schedules of children (and families) once a week is ridiculous.

I believe if teachers were allowed to truly use the time to collaborate (a la Finland), it would be worth it. But to have a rigid proscribed schedule may not be worth it to most teachers.
Anna K. said…
Switching middle and high schools to the later start time was better for kids and way cheaper and less weird than having students take naps in nap pods like at this New Mexico high school. The Centers for Disease Control recommend a start time of 8:30 or later for adolescents.

That said, tier one comes so early when you're dragging a 5-year-old out of bed and getting her dressed and ready and feeding her breakfast.

Our whole city has drifted away from a lifestyle that is friendly to families. When my 92-year-old neighbor was raising her kids and sending them to public school, things were different. And way more family friendly. Kids could walk to school. Many came home for lunch. Families could afford to have a parent stay home. There was time for gardening. People made homemade donuts to give out to trick or treaters. It's the same neighborhood, but the lifestyles of the families living here has changed. And many of the changes haven't been good for kids and family life.

I'm glad the schools are making better start-time choices. But as a city there are a lot of things we could do to make life for families with children better.

If deals with the Parks dept. are really forcing kids to miss a bunch of school to participate in sports, I think as a city we ought to re-explore that. They're our parks, they're our kids, they're our schools. We're negotiating with ourselves, right?
Anonymous said…
Walking to school is a good point. Part of the angst about start times is the massive commutes some have. I'm honestly not a fan of the whole option school thing. Someone refresh my memory, why can't we just have good neighborhood schools?

Anonymous said…
I'm glad the schools are making better start-time choices.

But, better for whom? Not all students, as K-5 students have very early starts (and how many of them rely on school breakfast?). Also, for MS/HS a late release may cancel the benefit of a late start. Students are forced to stay up much later. I'm glad it's working for some families, but it's not for ours. Had we known this yearly change in schedules was in the works, we would have made a different school choice.

Grouchy Parent said…
We can't have good neighborhood schools for a number of reasons. The foremost being the illegal underfunding of basic education statewide by our state government. Another serious problem in Seattle specifically is that we have a very large gap between the levels of academic performance and readiness within our schools. Figures show that the highest-performing pupils from disadvantaged families lag around two-and-a-half years behind bright children brought up in wealthy homes by the age of 15. This gap is observed throughout much of the developed world as well as in the U.S., where Sixth graders in the richest school districts are four grade levels ahead of children in the poorest districts. This gap plays out in individual classrooms and schools throughout the city where even in the same classroom there can be a 3 to 4 year gap in the academic level the students within the same classroom are at. And along with the massive underfunding (which comes with larger than ideal class sizes), this results in the students in every classroom all having a very broad variety of academic needs. We want the schools to be "good." But every neighborhood school is demonstrably not "good" for every child. Hence the option schools, etc.

We're not the only school district with this problem. But Washington state is doing pretty poorly with the funding. And we continue to pay our legislators an extra $120 or so per diem while they sit around in their "special" overtime session continuing to not solve the problem. The children of this state deserve better.
Tino said…
SPS provides 6,400 breakfasts every day.

Free breakfast is available to all students at:
Elementary Schools: Concord, Roxhill, and Van Asselt
Middle and High Schools: Aki Kurose, Seattle World School and South Lake

And free breakfast and free lunch are free to all students at:
Bailey Gatzert Elementary
Dunlap Elementary
Emerson Elementary
Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary
West Seattle Elementary

If you take a school bus to school, it should get you to school on time to eat breakfast on most days (barring traffic nightmares of course).

Anyway, the changes in schedule do make a difference. To breakfast time. To numbers of tardies. To before/aftercare hours. To after school activities.

But with the exception of students who would switch from tier 3 to tier 1 (they're going to have jet lag), we're talking about less than 45 minutes of difference in schedule between this year and next year. In many cases, much less than 45 minutes difference. And on Wednesdays, students will be getting out SUPER DUPER early so they'll have plenty of time for all kinds of stuff on Wednesdays. Not really sure how 45 minutes is breaking the camel's back on this one...
alex said…
Tino: I am going to talk only about tier 1 schools b/c that's what I know. We started at 8:35 last year. This year the first bell rings at 7:50 am. That's a huge change that has been hard on many tier 1 families this year, and there are thousands of kids in tier 1 kids, so not a small #.

No analysis yet from SPS on impact on tardies, truancy, and number of breakfasts served at tier 1 schools this year vs. last year, but the data from my kid's school for first four months of school year showed a HUGE increase in tardies this year vs. last.

THEN, contrary to the vast majority of input from tier 1 families re. when they would WANT extra time added, SPS proposed starting @ 7:45 next year, and first bell time at 7:40 am. So, almost an hour earlier in two years. We should have some say in this peocess since it impacts our families 180 days a year.

We are talking about little kids here. They also need to sleep, and eat. And there is an impact on starting school earlier & earlier, especially at high poverty schools. It presents a big equity issue when families can't get their kids to school on time.

7:40 is too early. It's dark in the winter. Buses are late all the time. Kids are missing breakfast.

SPS has presented no analysis on how this year's bell time changes impacted tier 1 schools, especially high poverty tier 1 schools. Breaking the camel's back is beside the point. It's not how education policies should be made.

We need two bell times next year, no matter what.
Tino said…
I have a tier 1 kindergartener, Alex. I agree that it's brutally early. They totally need to do the two tier switch just to keep it from moving earlier. If for no other reason. My kindergartener had to go to bed at 7:00 to get enough sleep. 7:00!!! What kind of time does that leave for a family life???

Someone DID do a study and found that 90% (51/58) of the elementary schools had experienced an increase in tardies with the move to the 7:50 first bell.
Anonymous said…

sorry i need to chime in without reading everyone's comments. later bell times this year are most welcome. social and emotional needs of the secondary kids are paramount to the little tikes. trust me they will all be there -- unless you are going private -- and you will appreciate it then. been there done that.

i am just waiting until they screw it up for everyone again.

-no caps

Anonymous said…
secondary needs to take buses which are out of their control. this adds 20 min to any trip. it is really sad. and they are not happy about it.

no caps
Mike said…
So, we're adding 20 minutes four days a week (for a total of 80 minutes) and then we're taking away 75 minutes on Wednesdays? What?

Anonymous said…
Mother trucker

(Re: 75 minutes)

Mag mom
alex said…
Tino: I agree. The early bedtimes needed to have elem kids up & ready for a 1st tier bell time are ridiculous. It has a big impact on family time. But, parents that mention that are accused of whining/privilege. Ok...

Do you have a link to the study that showed an increase in tardies in tier 1 schools this year? I would love to see it, and think we need to make sure the Council does too.

no caps: do you have any data or information to support your assertion, or we should just take it as fact because you said it was so? "social and emotional needs of the secondary kids are paramount to the little tikes." Why do you say that?

Actually, if you'd been following this discussion you would know that the later start times for secondary are not in question for next year. That's settled. This discussion is about next year, and whether the district can get it together to get to two bell times, as opposed to three, next year. Without two tiers, tier 1 schools will start insanely early next year, and tier 3 will end extremely late.
tino said…
I don't have a link to the tardies data for tier 1 schools from this year. I saw it on FB somewhere. But I know it's been a topic of discussion at my school. Maybe someone else has a link?

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