Followup: Seattle Public Schools now wants your opinion on transportation plans that could change ‘bell times’

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.

Got something to say to the district? Here’s the address: transdept@seattleschools.org

11 Replies to "Followup: Seattle Public Schools now wants your opinion on transportation plans that could change 'bell times'"

  • add May 4, 2012 (12:20 pm)

    This would almost be comical if it weren’t so dang predictable and ridiculous. The pattern of rushing hugely-impacting changes continues, resulting in all kinds of wasted energy. It’s so frustrating!

  • west seattle mom May 4, 2012 (1:57 pm)

    You know what’s ridiculous, setting up an email for feedback. If they truly want parent feedback, they need to get a survey out to all the parents (via all the online communication channels the schools have set up) with specific quantitative information. By soliciting information via email they are giving themselves the out of saying “we gave the public opportunity to respond.” With something that could impact the daily lives AND pocketbooks of so many struggling families this is entirely irresponsible on the districts part, not to mention the potential danger involved in rushing hugely-impacting changes.

    “The transportation team recognizes the need for community engagement, but the time frame is short because the Superintendent will finalize bell times for all schools by the end of May. As a result, we urge families to provide their feedback via email at transdept@seattleschools.org.”

  • WSTroll May 4, 2012 (4:21 pm)

    I’ve sent an email. Basically my position on this is that instead of setting the school schedule around the busses, they ought to be setting the bus schedule around an appropriate school start time. If they have to buy more busses and hire more bus drivers, so be it. Pass the cost down to the families that use the service if necessary. To be honest I don’t care about busses at all since my children won’t be using them.

  • Kate May 4, 2012 (5:48 pm)

    This may be a daft question, but how can each bus on the road cost the district $46,000 a year (as cited on the SPS link, referenced above)? I could run a bus for less than that!

  • Band geek's mom May 4, 2012 (6:32 pm)

    Director Carr again doing CYA for staff. They knew since DECEMBER that things weren’t working out (at end of link).

    http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/school%20board/committees/Operations/20111215_Minutes_Ops.pdf

    If they were so worried about taking $$$ from the classroom, you would think that this would’ve been on the frontburner soliciting input from those impacted – parents and families.

  • silverback May 4, 2012 (7:06 pm)

    Give transportation a chance. Bob Westgard is one of the most competent and effective managers in the school district. Transportation was just dumped into his lap last fall.

  • StaceyD May 4, 2012 (7:38 pm)

    I wonder how this would effect the school district test scores – many studies have shown that a later school start time for hs and middle school kids negatively effects their learning.

    This horrible behavior is exactly what I have learned to expect from the Seattle School District staff and School Board.

    Bummer!

  • k May 8, 2012 (2:01 pm)

    StaceyD– I have read the opposite studies– that puberty tends to bring out the night owls in people, and that the later start time is better developmentally for that age group.

    I have never heard the opposite.

    As a teacher at an elementary school in the district I like the earlier start time. We have fewer kids being dropped of at the playground as early as 1+ hour before school starts, and I like getting home in some semblance of daylight.

  • toniw May 11, 2012 (9:02 am)

    How about paying parents with vans to run a carpool? Parents are doing it already, but only with close friends and neighbors. We could fill those vans if we put a little incentive and technology behind it. A digital check-in each day to make sure each kid on the route is going…this could work.

  • Emma May 18, 2012 (9:37 pm)

    Any new news on this issue?

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