As noted in our Wednesday event list, the proposal to change Seattle Public Schools to a three-tier schedule was pulled from the School Board‘s meeting agenda, after originally being scheduled for introduction last night, followed by a final vote two weeks later. The district says it has to make the schedule changes because of a shortage of school-bus drivers, but many concerns have been raised about the proposal resulting in many schools starting as early as 7:30 am and some starting as late as 9:30 am, with a long list of potential ripple effects, including a child-care crisis. (See the West Seattle/South Park list of proposed changes in our original report on the controversial plan.)
SPS Superintendent Dr. Brent Jones said in a statement that the district is “slowing down the decision-making process so we can continue to identify ways to alleviate the concerns that have been raised.” Will it be back on the agenda for the board meeting in two weeks? No decision yet. Dr. Jones’s statement also included: “Staff will continue to work with schools, families, and partners over the next several weeks as we refine this plan.”
Even without an official agenda item, the proposal was the subject of much discussion at last night’s meeting (video above) – both during the public-comment period and during the board-comment period. Some parents who spoke urged the district to keep the current schedules for next school year and spend that time working on the underlying issues. Board members spoke of the uproar with which they had been dealing for the past week-plus, saying that district staff surfacing this so late in the school year had “created an emergency where there shouldn’t need to be one.” West Seattle’s school-board rep Leslie Harris noted again, as she had at the recent community meeting, that the budget item foreshadowing this dated back months, so the proposal shouldn’t have been so last-minute. And board president Brandon Hersey also decried the resulting “fear and confusion,” when, he said, the board should instead be able to be “stewards of peace and clarity.”
Just one night earlier, the district held an informational meeting about the proposal; you can see the recording here. They’re continuing to accept feedback here. And if you want to talk about this – or any other SPS issue – with Harris, she announced that since library meeting rooms have just reopened, she will have an in-person community conversation meeting at 3 pm Saturday, May 21st, at West Seattle (Admiral) Library (2306 42nd SW).