We have followups today on the Seattle Public Schools board considering a staff recommendation to change the transportation plan for next year because of a budget problem, as reported here Wednesday afternoon. A transportation-plan change in turn would change start/end times for most if not all schools, since they are linked to bus arrival/departure times, and the last-minute discovery of this agenda item led to an outcry because part of the proposal could dramatically change those “bell times.” The video above is from Wednesday night’s board meeting – the second of two clips published by Seattle Channel; forward it to about 95 minutes in, when the discussion on this topic finally began. West Seattle’s school-board director Marty McLaren said during the meeting that she had talked with WS High School principal Ruth Medsker on how a much-earlier start time would affect high-school students, many of whom take Metro buses – often being passed frequently by already-full buses – and McLaren said her understanding is that this could have a “catastrophic impact” on that situation, especially considering an anti-tardiness campaign that she said has been working well at WSHS, and has led to improved academic performance.
Among other things, the district manager who briefed the board Wednesday acknowledged that this had all unfolded without public input – in fact, he said the “accelerated project” did not “allow” it. But today, the district has put out an update on where the situation stands, now REQUESTING public input before the school board’s possible vote on May 16th. You can read their full update here. Right now, district staffers are doing more “analysis” of various options and promised to have that by next Friday (May 11th). This all has to be finalized soon, the district says, because start/end times have to be set in stone for next year by the end of this month.
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