FOLLOWUP: Seeking solutions to school-sports transportation trouble

West Seattle High School‘s athletic director says their Friday night football game vs. Cleveland HS at Southeast Athletic Complex might have to be canceled because of the ongoing transportation problem with away games.

That’s what AD Trevor Leopold told the 20+ people at last night’s community meeting called to strategize how to get Seattle Public Schools to address the ongoing problem, which is affecting other schools too.

Patrick Sand covered the meeting for WSB:

The main concern remains that athletes now have to miss more classes because buses are usually only available much earlier than they’re really needed to get to the games, so they must leave class at 12:45 pm to catch 1 pm buses for events starting no earlier than 4 pm. But this week is different: The district’s transportation provider has no “yellow buses” available at all to get the team to the 5 pm game site in Rainier Beach.

Usually under these circumstances, any given school can contract with a private bus provider, but this Friday night, Leopold said, they’re all booked because of the University of Washington game against Stanford at Husky Stadium that night.

Leopold plans to meet today with WSHS Principal Ruth Medsker to talk about whether the game will have to be canceled.

Meantime, the rest of the meeting, called by the West Seattle Booster Club and led by Donna Veenhuizen, included an explanation that the transportation problem isn’t just because of this year’s move to a later schedule. It also affects WSHS players getting to practices, because even with Hiawatha Playfield next door, they have limited access to it. The team plays home games at Southwest Athletic Complex, which is three miles away (and across the street from our area’s other public high school, Chief Sealth International High School, for which it’s the home field too). The 1 pm pickup time is earlier than the district had announced at the end of last school year, according to Leopold, and it means WSHS athletes miss two classes and lunch. One parent pointed out that the latter is an extra hardship for those who rely on free/reduced-price lunch at school.

The issue of the Joint Use Agreement with Seattle Parks – which affects use of Hiawatha, for example – isn’t just a football issue; other teams need transportation to distant practice fields if they can’t practice there. And swimmers have to get to Southwest Pool (which is next to SW Athletic Complex).

Even if private buses are available, the cost becomes an issue, and again, that affects other schools too. So the Booster Club is contacting other schools to talk about a show of support at the next School Board meeting on October 12th, joining WSHS students, parents, faculty and staff. The board meeting is at district headquarters in SODO (3rd Ave. S./S. Lander) and advance signup is required for a public-comment slot. Signups for this meeting will start at 8 am Monday, October 10th, via e-mail and phone, as explained on this district webpage.

10 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Seeking solutions to school-sports transportation trouble"

  • Pops September 27, 2016 (11:14 am)

    Is the problem related to the new bell times? If so, how did the district not see this would be a problem? Surely someone brought it up beforehand. Maybe a parent, teach, or coach?

  • old timer September 27, 2016 (11:24 am)

    It would be fun to have published, next to the signature to these various edicts, the salary paid to that particular public official.  

    Great fun.
  • JR September 27, 2016 (12:59 pm)

    Pops: Everyone on the business-end of working with kids knew that the new bell times would make an existing issue a MUCH bigger problem.  It was brought up innumerable times at various levels.  Our Athletic Directors and coaches were very vocal.

    Which explains why we are SO IMMENSELY FRUSTRATED that the SPS has seemingly turned a blind eye to the fallout from it’s decision on bell times.

    YES, research shows that a later start is healthy for teenagers.  The board got that part right.  BUT research is also blindingly obvious that BEING IN CLASS  is essential to academic success, AND that physical activity is associated with less obesity, lower rates of pregnancy and suicide, etc.  The Board’s half-way thought-out policies have moved us from a position of getting two-out-of-three right to getting ONE-out-of three right!!

    Our kids deserve 3/3!  It’s doable.  Solutions exist, and have been proposed, and been IGNORED.  SPS won’t even engage it’s ADs and coaches in the dialogue!  That’s why we need public support- we must give our reactionary leadership something they’ll actually react to so they’ll stop hurting kids with half-way reasoned decisions.

    • newnative September 27, 2016 (1:08 pm)

      what do bell times have to do with the lack of school or private buses?  These issues are totally different.  

    • Pops September 27, 2016 (4:17 pm)

      We’re frustrated with SPS too. They had trouble before elementary schools doubled in size these past 6 years or so. Even worse now. Can’t wait and hope. We switched to private school.

  • Person September 27, 2016 (1:18 pm)

    I love the change! Frustrating that the district can’t get transportation figured out, but maybe sports shouldn’t be a priority.

  • KH September 27, 2016 (7:33 pm)

    Seems to me maybe the transportation department needs some serious logistics help if this problem is related to school bus problems.  My son started riding a bus to elementary school this year. It is mostly empty and yet drops the kids off at an inconvenient stop. There is another bus from the same school he and probably the rest of the kids on his bus could ride on.  Seems inefficient and a waste the way they have it set up now.

  • Jeff September 28, 2016 (5:55 am)

    New native, you are mistaken.  If school times are shifted later, but bus pick up times are not allowed to shift later to match, then kids miss more school.  “Not related”?  Get your facts right.

    Person: Glad you love the change. I’m OK with it too. But I don’t understand why you don’t care at all if the District employs a few simple changes to mitigate the negative impacts?  If we keep the new bell times AND fix the buses, how are you hurt??  And who are you to tell other families what their priorities should be?  How absolutely close-minded of you.

    For the record, as the parent of three SPS honors students/athletes, my priority is MY CHILDREN, and that includes their physical health as well as their psychological and emotional well-being.  My children learn critical lessons and mature through their athletic experiences in ways no classroom could ever match.

    Why are some of you hostile about so many parents wanting the District to be fundamentally competent when it comes to letting kids be in school and also participate in sports?  Wow.

  • Bugsy September 28, 2016 (9:23 pm)

    I am hating the new bell times for my kid in elementary school.  

    1. I wake my son from a deep sleep every morning at 7. He’s exhausted, but there is no way to put him to bed earlier since we both work. 

    2. This changes has not been revenue neutral for my family. Aftercare went up by $150 per month since try are covering they are covering the 2-3 pm hour now. We don’t keep him there an hour later but we do have to pay for it. I did NOT get a raise of $150/month so this is an added expense of $1500 per year for my family. Maybe it was revenue neutral for SPS, but for parents with kids in after care it is not at all.

    3. What pediatrician ever said that elementary school kids need less sleep? Not one. They are not all early risers, and their brains are developing too, and sleep is an essential part of that brain development.

    4. It will soon be dark at the 7:55 am bell time. But the playground has no lights. What will we do then?  Line them up on the dark outside?  Will SPS pay for lights?  I doubt it, but we better make a plan soon.

    5. I dispute the idea that kids have more energy in the early afternoon than before as the performing arts instructor said. Mine is exhausted from getting up so early. 

    6. Are high school kids really sleeping in?

  • seeing both sides October 12, 2016 (1:53 pm)

    I don’t have answers but am trying to see concerns and positives on both sides:

    HS sports times could potentially open the door to more coaches being available (ie: an elementary teacher couldn’t coach at MS/HS due to dismissal times; now they could if they wanted too.)

    HS/MS should not be missing lunch. Unacceptable

    transportation: its difficult scheduling buses for field trips due to the 3 tier start times.

    students being dropped off at elementary between 7:00 & 7:20 with NO adult supervision available until 7:30.

    my child riding a bus with less than 10 students- ride is shorter compared to last years- 45 min+ ride and my child’s daily compliant about always being late to school- which is better….

    my children go to bed at 7:00-7:30 are woken from deep sleep at 6:30am. They can’t do organized sports due to practices being so late. They are barely getting enough sleep and are exhausted and cranky by thursday night. Saturdays are a disaster…. 

    my childcare fees have also increased- childcare facility said it was directly in response to needing more afternoon time and less morning care for the families they serve. 

    In the end, parents and families need to take action. Every parent every family needs to be represented- Fill out the Current Family Survey. It asks about the Tier start schedule and other important factors. One of the visions this year is increasing family partnerships, lets give them what they asked for and blow them away with the power and voice of EVERY family. 

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