From the Lawton newsletter:
The school board is currently considering changes to the transportation plan for 2012-2013 school year. This email is intended to provide you with additional information regarding the transportation proposal, some talking points, and suggestions on how to voice your concerns. Please note that the school board is planning to vote on the proposal next week. Any public comments need to be made as soon as possible, ideally within the next few days.
Transportation Proposal Background: SPS transportation staff are reviewing options for revising the District’s transportation plan for next year. Last week, a presentation was made to the School Board that outlined three arrival/departure times for schools. Schools are currently divided into three transportation tiers. Under the new proposal, changes would be made so that Tier One schools would have buses arriving at school as early as 7:10 am. (school would begin at approximately 7:30 am). Tier Two schools would arrive at 8:25 and depart 3:00. Tier Three schools will have later start (arrival 9:20, start around 9:40) and end times with buses leaving schools at 3:55 p.m. and some students potentially arriving home as late as 4:40 p.m.
The school district has not communicated which schools will be assigned to each tier so we do not know how or if Lawton would specifically be affected Lawton is currently a Tier Two School.
Although not all students arrive at school by bus, transportation decisions do impact all families because transportation plans ultimately determine bell times. How the transportation issues are resolved will determine what time students start and end school next year. Also note that the transportation issue is ultimately a budget issue. The district is hoping to save an additional $1 million in transportation costs in the next school year. Additional information on the transportation plan is available at the district website.
From our friends at the McClure PTSA: As reported in the McNews earlier this week, the SPS Transportation department has proposed changes to the bus schedule, which impacts start times at most schools. Information on the SPS proposal can be found here and here. If SPS adopts these changes to the bus system, middle and high schools will have a bus drop off time of 7:10 (start time 7:25). Since the proposal also allows for increasing ride time to 60 minutes (it is now 45 minutes), students could be the bus as early as 6:10. To accommodate this proposed 3 tier busing system, some elementary start times could start as late as 9:45 (dismissing at 4). This proposal will likely impact all students and their families in some way. Several parent groups have begun working on this issue.
Please see the following:
•There is a petition on the subject that can be found here. Please consider signing to send a message to the school board.
•An alternate proposal, recenlty drafted by a parent, can be found here.
•There was a meeting of interested and concerned parents at TOPS last night. Below are the talking points and notes from the meeting at TOPS last night.
If you wish to contact the entire school board on this issue, you can email email@example.com with a cc to the Transportation department firstname.lastname@example.org. If you wish to contact specific school board members (our region’s representative is Michael DeBell), you can find individual email addresses here.
The school board will vote on this proposal on May 16th Board Meeting. To sign up to speak, click here.
Talking Points from TOPS Meeting:
TRANSPORTATION TALKING POINTS
No Public Engagement: The District introduced the new transportation plan at the School Board meeting on Wednesday, May 2 to be voted on at the next meeting, May 16. Staff admitted there was no public engagement prior to introduction of the plan. Furthermore, the proposal acknowledges that 5-6 additional schools will need to be moved to Tier One, but staff won’t disclose which schools will be affected. That robs those who will be affected of the opportunity to evaluate the impact to their school communities and provide feedback.
After Open Enrollment: The Transportation Service Standards, adopted by the School Board on February 1, 2012, state that bus arrival/departure times and school start/end times must be established prior to the start of Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment ended in March.
Enrollment: The District has not considered the impact on Enrollment if they make this change now. We predict that many families will leave option schools on Tier One because of the time change and show up at their attendance area school, many of which are already over-crowded.
Safety: The Transportation Service Standards state that option schools can have bus rides up to 60 minutes. For an option school K-8 on the first tier for buses, with a bus arrival time of 7;10 am, that means that some buses could be picking up children at 6:10 am. With a 45 minute ride, the first bus pick-up would be at 6:25 am. For bus routes with community stops, the bus stop can be up to ½ mile from a child’s home. It is not safe for young children to be walking to their bus stops and waiting at bus stops in the dark.
Sleep Issues: Young children who require 11 or more hours of sleep at night would have to go to sleep at 6 pm. Research shows that middle and high school students should start school later. This early a start to the school day will not lead to good educational outcomes for any students – elementary, middle or high school.
Parental support and engagement in homework: Research shows that parental support and engagement in homework is an important contributor to student achievement. Yet, changes to school start times will have little to no effect on the core working hours of the vast majority of parents. All it will do is reduce the number of hours that working parents and children have together to read, review assignments, and give and get help with homework.
Impact on Staff: Some staff will not be able to continue to work at schools on Tier One. For example, day cares typically open at 7 am. A staff member who is required to be at school prior to bus arrivals will not be able to work at a Tier One school. This will mean Tier One schools will be disadvantaged because the pool of available staff will be smaller than other schools in the district.
Impact on after-school care infrastructure: Spreading out the bell times for different elementary and K-8 schools will put on a strain on various aspects of after-care infrastructure. Programs will have to staff for longer and pass those costs on to parents.
Cost Analysis: The District’s proposal does not contain the kind of cost analysis the School Board should insist on before changing school start times drastically. Where is the support for the claim that doing this will save $1 million?
Need to Cut Costs: It is disingenuous for the District to claim that if the transportation is not adopted, they will have to RIF more teachers. There are other areas of the budget that can be cut. And, the District is considering the purchase of an office building and buy-back of a ground lease for $3.2 million, introduced at the same May 2 meeting and also scheduled for a May 16 vote. Does it make sense that the District can spend $3.2 million to purchase an office building and at the same time, claim that it must inconvenience thousands of families and adversely affect educational outcomes for thousands of students by changing bus times in order to save $1 million?
Failure to Consider Alternatives: The District has not considered other ways to cut transportation costs that would not inconvenience families and staff and have an adverse impact on educational outcomes. For example, District staff dismissed the proposal of one School Board Director to expand community stops to more bus routes, stating there could be discipline problems at bus stops and complaints from property owners. District staff did not consult with families or staff at TOPS, which is using community stops on all buses this year – without complaint and without discipline problems.
Three Tier v. Two Tier: If the only way the District can reliably operate a three tier bus system is to push back start times to 7:30, then perhaps we should conclude that three tiers don’t work in Seattle because of our geography and travel times.
SCHOOL BOARD DIRECTOR COMMUNITY MEETINGS
Wednesday, May 9 — Director McLaren Community meeting – 12:30-2:30 p.m. at Southwest Library, 9010 35th Avenue SW
Saturday, May 12 — Director Carr Community meeting from 8:30am-10:00am at Bethany Community Church, 8023 Green Lake Dr – Christian Education Building (corner of N 81st and Stone Ave N). The entrance can be accessed from N 81st Street, next to the playground.
Saturday, May 12 — Director Smith-Blum Community meeting from 10-11:30 am, location TBA.