FOLLOWUP: How Seattle Public Schools is proposing to change schedules next school year

In case you missed this the day before Thanksgiving – Seattle Public Schools says the results of October’s survey have been tallied and there’s now a proposed plan for how to change schedules next year. Here’s the district announcement, starting with the backstory:

School Schedule Recommendations for 2017-18

To improve K-12 students’ academic access and achievement, the Seattle Education Association (SEA) and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) agreed to add 20 minutes of core instructional time to the school day starting in the 2017-18 school year. This action also brings our instructional hours into alignment with other districts in the region.

In addition, SEA and SPS agreed to add teacher collaboration time into the work day to support common planning time and improved student outcomes.

Thank you to the 11,000 plus family members, teachers, principals and community partners who responded to last month’s survey on how to add 20 minutes to the instructional day and provided guidance on when to implement the one hour of teacher collaboration time per week.

Your input and feedback is valued.

Recommendations informed by stakeholders and community engagement:

In 2017-18, all K-12 students will be dismissed one hour early in support of teacher collaboration. Every stakeholder group (families, partners, teachers and principals) preferred the one-hour a week early release over late arrival.

The early release once a week will be on Wednesdays. Wednesday was the day preferred by principals and school staff. While Fridays were preferred by the majority of families and partners, mid-week collaboration better supports the SEA/SPS partnership goals.

The addition of twenty minutes will be split between the morning and afternoon. Current Tier 1 families (early start schools) wanted to add the 20 minutes at the end of the day. Current Tier 2 and 3 families (late start schools) want to add the time to the beginning of the day. Splitting the difference (10/10) was the second preferred choice by all stakeholders (families, staff, and partners), so 10 minutes will be added to the morning schedule and 10 minutes to the afternoon schedule.

Timeline for Finalization of the 2017-18 School Schedules:

As mentioned, the staff recommendation is to split the additional 20 minutes, 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon, if the district continues to have three different school start times.

The outstanding consideration is if we can afford to move to a two tier bus system (two start times). We know this is preferred by some families, especially those currently in Tier 3, the schools with the latest start time.

We estimate this change could cost up to $3.8 million, and while these costs may be reduced through different transportation scenarios and may be a one-time cost depending on state funding, it will add to the $71 million dollar budget shortfall we are facing because of the legislature’s failure to fully fund public education.

You can find more information on 2017-18 budget development on our Budget Office webpage.

Decisions regarding the number of start times (three versus two) and implementation of the associated transportation standards will be influenced by the School Board’s budgeting process. The 2017-18 bell schedules will be finalized and communicated in January.

To provide additional feedback to staff and the Seattle School Board please email

50 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: How Seattle Public Schools is proposing to change schedules next school year"

  • S November 29, 2016 (9:38 am)

    WTF, I am tired of the SPS messing with bell times and schedules.  My child is 6 and there is no way in hell he should have to come to school any earlier then he is now. This would mean he would be in school at 7:45 a.m.  In what reality is it ok to have kids that young starting that early.  I don’t care what studies you note they are wrong. 

    This really needs to stop and some common scene needs to be used and practiced in the SPS.  

    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:19 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

      • S November 30, 2016 (8:21 am)

        Whats that have to do with anything about this dumb bell time change.  NOTHING!!!!

        And yes I volunteered every week in my son’s class, which is none of your business. 

  • Hot Coffee November 29, 2016 (9:53 am)

    Crackpots. The net effect is 30 minutes extra instruction time a week (presuming the time actually goes to instruction) while creating chaos in every parent’s schedule. 

    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:20 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

  • AHP November 29, 2016 (10:07 am)

    Where are they saying WHAT They are doing with the extra time.. So many parents asked for MORE TIME TO EAT LUNCH and recess, where is that plan? Dumba–es

    • Hot Coffee November 29, 2016 (11:06 am)

      It’s “ core instructional time ” according the district.

    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:20 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

      • Hot Coffee November 30, 2016 (1:21 pm)

        Yes, I have – quite regularly for the last five years. And yes I’ve communicated directly and regularly with the district leadership as well as school leadership about myriad absurdities. I think I get your point that blabbing on the blog is an ineffective way to enact change but this district, imho, doesn’t give a hoot what parents or the community want. At least not in a vacuum. As a large group with SEA good pressure was applied in the strike but that’s a 1-in-a-1,000 situation. So yeah, we may comment on the Blog’s coverage of the decision but don’t presume that’s our only channel.

      • Jess November 30, 2016 (7:27 pm)

        Come on, really? The people on here are the people who care the most. Yes we volunteer. Yes we donate. Yes we care. Stop acting so condescending with these ridiculous repeat comments. 

  • JRR November 29, 2016 (10:43 am)

    What? It’s 10 minutes on either end. We’re going to be OK. The new school year is always chaotic at the start; kids won’t even notice you had to get up 10 minutes earlier.

  • K8 November 29, 2016 (11:20 am)

    I love how they asked for feedback and then promptly ignored it when it didn’t match what they already wanted to do.

  • djs November 29, 2016 (11:47 am)

    Please everyone just calm down!! your life will be ok. I feel bad for people that cannot make a small change in there life.  These are first world problems for sure.   Bigger stuff to worry about than  getting little  ” Timmy ” up 20  minutes earlier.     Have a great day!!

    • Hot Coffee November 29, 2016 (1:13 pm)

      It’s not necessarily such a small change, djs. Many working families have fixed schedules and commutes and cannot adapt so easily. And it’s much less about 10 minutes here or there and much more about the constant change the district imposes. 

      • Mike November 30, 2016 (8:55 am)

        By first world problems, I believe they mean keeping their job, right?  That’s the impact this can have on parents.  

  • Lox November 29, 2016 (12:16 pm)

    The bus already comes for my third grader at 7:13am in the dark. The moon is still bright. But hey, it’s cool if we have to get up at 5:50 instead of 6. 

  • Amber Knox November 29, 2016 (1:42 pm)

    Will a longer school day result in less homework for elementary kids? That would be a benefit of adding more instructional time – more time for family in the evenings!

    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:19 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

  • alki mom November 29, 2016 (4:16 pm)

    Having to be at School at 7.40 am is completely insane! What is wrong with SPS, why can’t our kids have normal hours and why do they want them to wake up at the crack of dawn? 

    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:18 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

  • zark00 November 29, 2016 (5:22 pm)

    They have weekly early release, also on Weds, in the Kenmore district.

    Or they DID – it is SO UNIVERSALLY hated that they are doing away with it.

    Parents hate it, kids hate it, teachers claim ZERO or even a negative benefit from it.

    This is once again, SPS sticking their head int he sand, ignoring the failed outcome of the same experiment in other districts, and enacting it here.  

    S – you are 100% correct – the study they cited for the early start times was woefully misappropriated.  The study CLEARLY proves a later start time benefits ALL student age groups – SPS threw Elementary under the bus in favor of HS kids, because HS kids are consolidated at fewer schools and it’s logistically feasible for SPS to do “something”.  SPS is a nightmare, Nyland makes over $400k a year and does what?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  He’s beyond useless, hates teachers, hates parents, and gives not one single crap about the kids in his district aside from shutting them up.

    To all of you saying “relax” it’s 20 minutes – we’ll all live.  Shut up.  Just shut your mouth.  You have no idea what you’re talking about and you clearly either don’t have kids or don’t like yours.  So just shut your ignorant mouths.

    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:17 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

      • S November 30, 2016 (8:50 am)

        Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

      • zark00 November 30, 2016 (4:56 pm)

        yes, many, many, many times – including will be there tomorrow just for the record

    • alex November 30, 2016 (7:53 am)

      Could not agree with you more. SPS has never given one iota of concern for the impact of the early start times on elementary school kids.  Who ever said they don’t need sleep?  I have to drag my kid out of bed in the morning now.  And I DO put him to be early, but it turns out that teenagers aren’t the only ones that need sleep.

  • Angela November 29, 2016 (6:51 pm)

    First world problems? This is Seattle. We are seriously too smart for this first world problem. This city has the smartest, most tech-savvy, most open-minded and self-sufficient people in the country. This is the school district refusing to utilize the minds and solutions of parents.

    These schools would not exist without the parents!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our opinions should come first!

    The only reason we’re subjected to these timeframes is because of the transportation system. In some schools less than 15% of students ride the bus. There is no reason to hold our schedules hostage and use the transportation system for 35 kids. We can find solutions. We can carpool. We can hire our own transportation company.

    Time to start a private school. And homeschooling in the meantime.


    • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:16 pm)

      Have you volunteered at your kids’ school?

      • Hot Coffee November 30, 2016 (1:23 pm)

        Did you accept a dare to see how many times you can post the same comment in one thread?

  • secretidentity November 29, 2016 (6:59 pm)

    I hope people continue to speak out about this, either pro or con. I’m a teacher, so I can speak (for myself) from that perspective.

    This change increases the school day for students, but not for teachers. That is, the 1 hour total we’re contracted to be at school before and after the school day will be reduced to 40 minutes. There will be an “extra” hour on that dismissal day, but I highly doubt it will used for anything that helps teachers do their actual jobs. I see more unwanted and meaningless “professional development” in my future. 

    This was the ONE thing that SPS would not budge on during the contract dispute/strike. 

    (Side note: in the much vaunted Finnish education system, teachers are in front of their classrooms about half the time we are. The rest of the time is devoted to planning, assessing and collaborating. Yet our solution here is to increase instruction time and reduce planning time – it makes no sense.)

  • WSJoe November 29, 2016 (7:23 pm)

    First it the War on Cars.  Now, its the War on Students.   And yes, the commenters who have no kids stand out like sore thumbs.

  • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:05 pm)

    Without taking a side: How many of you go to school board meetings on a regular or semi-regular basis? Or email when you have qualms about the course the board is taking? Have you also contacted the SEA? It is imperative to be involved in our childrens’ education, but perhaps posting on the WSB is not the most proactive medium to affect education reform. The five minutes it takes to post here may be better spent in an email or phone call to your school board representative. Here she is:

    Leslie Harris

    School Board Director

    (206) 475-1000

    • WSB November 29, 2016 (11:17 pm)

      Please don’t ask people NOT to post here. Of course it’s not a *substitute* for official participation, but discussion on a much-read, publicly visible website IS an additional place for opinions, concerns, and suggestions to be seen and considered by others (including public officials, who, yes, are among the 100,000+ regular readers here) – unlike, for example, nested comments in social-media silos. We evangelize official means of participation (and this announcement does end, you’ll note, with an e-mail address) more than most publications but it’s not an either-or. – TR

      • LauraWM November 29, 2016 (11:32 pm)

        My post should not be read as a suggestion that one should not engage in social media discourse. I am rather suggesting that one should, in addition to making his/her thoughts known, take a moment to make his/her voice heard directly to our representatives who, as you rightly point out, read this publication. Thank you again, WSB, for propgating a valuable community resource.

        • zark00 November 30, 2016 (5:06 pm)

          Yeah but that’s at all what you said – WSB is 100% correct, and you’re caught out.  I have contacted the School Board, the Ombudsperson, I’ve even exchanged emails with Nyland – the results?  Nothing – nada – zip – zilch – zero – they are inept or don’t care, take your pick – have you ever contacted them ?  People in glass houses….

          I’m going to listen to SECRETIDENTIY – an actual teacher – about the efficacy of this decision by SPS.  That’s a person who both knows and cares.

          and, on a more positive note, 100,000 regular readers WSB?  Really? That’s is awesome, congrats, and it’s well deserved. 

  • alex November 30, 2016 (8:06 am)

    SPS’ email clearly states that they heard from tier 1 parents that we do not want our kids’ school day to start any earlier, yet they once again ignored our concerns to balance us against the wishes of the tier 2 & 3 schools, who wanted a later start, but I don’t buy that b/c there are far MORE tier 1 schools than 2 & 3 combined, so it’s not a simple matter of tier 1 vs. 2 & 3. I am going to file a public records request with the district and ask them to provide the survey data analysis.

    Tracy: is a public records request of the survey data the blog could do too, since West Seattle elementary school parents have been against the earlier start times since day one (according to the district’s own data)? I am so tired of SPS asking for our feedback & then doing whatever they planned to do anyway.

    For those who have said that this is just a small change, and get over it–if you don’t have a kid in elementary school who is impact by this, maybe you can spare us your snark?  Please take the whole change in context: this year’s start time is 40 minutes earlier than last year’s.  With the new change, it’s 50 minutes earlier.  

    The district keeps making claims about how HS kids do so much better with more sleep.  Maybe so, but it’s not supposed to be at the expense of elementary school kids’ sleep.  I agree 100% with Zark00 who wrote that SPS has thrown elementary school kids under the bus on this one.  My eight year old is a zombie when I try to wake him at 7 am every morning now.  And, please don’t tell me to put him to be earlier.  I work,  I am also a big fan of bed time, believe me.  But there’s only so much that’s humanly possible, given dinner, homework, bathing reading, and maybe wanting to spend a few minutes with my kid before bed.

    Finally, SPS wrote a lot about how the bell time change this year had to be revenue neutral.  Well, guess what? It wasn’t revenue neutral for working parents with kids in after care.  Our after care went up by $150 per month PER KID b/c they are now providing more hours of after school care.  That’s $1500 per kid per school year.  I didn’t get a big raise to cover that, so it wasn’t revenue neutral for me.  Next year’s one hour early release time won’t be revenue neutral for after care either.

    Enough is enough, SPS.  Working parents of elementary school kids are your constituents too.  Our feedback has got to be taken into consideration.  A 7:45 am start time is too early for kids and families.  Stop. 

    • S November 30, 2016 (8:58 am)


    • K8 November 30, 2016 (10:09 am)


    • Tier1 parent November 30, 2016 (3:11 pm)

      DITTO! LOVE everything about this post

    • SPS doesn't care November 30, 2016 (10:48 pm)

      Thank you Alex for summing up all the problems with this situation!  It is ridiculous how SPS asks for our input and then promptly ignores it because it doesn’t fit what they want to do.  So sick of their BS!  Also sick of paying way more for after school care as a result of all these changes!  SPS needs to think about how they are impacting families for a change.

  • WS mom November 30, 2016 (2:55 pm)

    LauraWM why so negative? Your posts “have you volunteered” are obnoxious. I am a volunteer coordinator at one of our elementary schools and I get your point about some parents complaining on social media, but not participating in the process, but that is not the majority of us. We are all doing the best that we can. I am someone who attends all the meetings and is super involved and it doesn’t matter, SPS still doesn’t listen . I feel so very fortunate that I am able to stay at home with my children so I can adjust to any of the time changes. My friends who have careers either by choice or because a 2 income family is required, don’t have the luxury of dictating what hours they work in their jobs. These crazy start times and early releases make it almost impossible for working parents. The hours coupled with the severe shortage of after school programs create a real burden for families. I watch several neighborhood children after school because they didn’t get in to the after school programs. The wait lists are ridiculous. That’s for folks who can afford after school care. I dont know how working parents do it. It is such a shame. 

    Instead of telling parents to get over it or be more involved, how about having some compassion for parents that are trying to make things work.

    • Jess November 30, 2016 (7:33 pm)

      Thank you! Very well said. 

  • alex November 30, 2016 (9:13 pm)

    SPS’ response to my public records request:

    FAMILY Results
    11,108 responses
    3,035 were non-white respondents

    Tier 1 families (5683)

    • 86.5% add time to the end of the day

    • 8.2% split the time

    • 5.3% of Tier 1 families said add to the beginning of the day

    Tier 2 and 3 schools (5209)

    • 47.8% (2488) of Tier 2 and 3 families prefer adding time to the beginning of the day.

    • 24% Tier 2/3 families prefer adding time to the end of the day

    • 28.4% Tier 2/3 families prefer splitting the time

    IN SUM:





    • Safe Driver November 30, 2016 (11:23 pm)

      Wow! SPS definitely ignored those numbers.  

    • PLS December 1, 2016 (9:40 am)

      Wow, thanks for getting these numbers Alex. Stunning denial of our voice.  57% of the respondents wanted it at the end of the day and splitting was the 3rd choice – so that’s what they chose??  2016 really is the death of the popular vote – was there an electoral college involved in this of which we were not made aware? ;-)

      Seriously, though, if it’s that important to the Tier 2 and 3 schools … couldn’t they have different times?  So Tier 1 gets the 20 at the end of the day, Tiers 2 and 3 get it at the beginning. Or would that screw up the bus sharing and cost more money?

      • alex December 1, 2016 (1:39 pm)

        @PLS: I could not agree more. I feel like it’s the election all over again, albeit on a tiny, micro version.  But still, it’s a big deal, and the vast majority of us do not want school to start one minute earlier.  It’s enough already, and our voices (aka the majority, heretofore something that mattered) should count.

        Any interest in emailing SPS? should hear about this, as should  and maybe a little Twitter action?  I am not taking this one without a BIG fight.  It’s too much.

      • PLS December 1, 2016 (2:08 pm)

        Just realized I asked a stupid question – the District said in their letter than they could move to a different schedule but it’d cost $3.8m. So that’s a non-starter given the State’s failure to fund.

    • AmandaKH December 1, 2016 (2:56 pm)

      @Alex – I hope you don’t mind, but I just used your comment and emailed the whole board (  + the arrivalbedtime email address.  Thank you!  for getting this info and making it public.  I have zero confidence that SPS will do anything, but it is worth a try.

      • alex December 1, 2016 (4:53 pm)

        @Amandakh: please do.  The more, the merrier.  I might try some “tweeting” too.  @seapublicschools Enough is enough!

  • ATeacher December 1, 2016 (2:21 pm)

    I’m an elem tether (tier 1). Can I point out that I have my own child I have to get to preschool and that teachers arrive 30 minutes prior to kids. Thus my start time is actually 5 min after my child’s preschool even opens. I’m not even sure how to manage that when it’s been a struggle so far this year. Know that many teachers feel and echo your concerns. 

    • alex December 1, 2016 (4:55 pm)

      Please, please let SPS hear from you about this, @ ateacher.  Please.  Your perspective is so important.


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