Dear Launch Families—
As you may be aware, a communication from Seattle Public Schools was shared today in regards to a significant change to bell-times across all SPS schools. (Please see below) These bell-time changes are to support the District’s ability to re-establish the multiple bus routes that have been cancelled since the onset of the pandemic.
There is currently only one proposal being presented, which I have attached to this email for your review. As you can see from the attachment, 2 Launch locations are proposed to move to either a 8:30 (Sanislo) or 9:30 (Maple) am start time. These changes could have significant impact on Launch’s program operations at these locations, both in logistics and in staffing. Our ability to offer a before-school will be influenced by a multitude of factors, including space availability within the building, staffing, and financial impact. The final decision will be made at the May 18th Board Meeting.
As of now, Launch plans to open Fall 2022 enrollment at all locations as scheduled, on April 29th. If there are significant changes in the coming weeks, we will communicate directly with you to determine what schedule changes may be needed.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge how impactful these changes may be on you and your family. Launch continues to work diligently to support our families during these changing times, including advocating to Seattle Public Schools to explore additional schedule options.
I know these changes and the uncertainty that surrounds them adds another layer of stress for Launch families. Please know that we are doing everything we can to advocate to the district for the best possible outcome, and will continue to keep you updated as more information becomes available to us, as well as share more opportunities for you to advocate for Launch and other child care providers. Thank you again for your understanding and continued support.
From Seattle Public Schools:
Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is proposing a change to bell times (school start and end times) for the next school year. If approved, this new schedule would begin on the first day of school. September 7 is the first day of school for 1st-12th grade students. September 12 is the first day of kindergarten.
The School Board will vote on the 2022-23 Transportation Service Standards, which includes bell times for all schools, in May.
We know that changing the bell times will mean adjustments for families and staff.
Why the Change?
Currently, there are two tiers of start times for our schools — one start time for most elementary students, and one start time for secondary students (grades 6-12) and K-8 schools. If approved, the change will put a three-tier system in place.
This school year, there have been challenges in providing reliable yellow bus service for eligible students because of a nationwide driver shortage.
There have not been enough drivers available for the number of school buses we need for the current start times. This means our district had to suspend some bus routes, and some buses arrived one to two hours late.
There are currently 50 suspended school bus routes due to a lack of drivers. The nationwide shortage of school bus drivers is expected to continue next year.
Moving to a three-tier system of start times would allow each driver to drive more routes and reduce the number of drivers needed. This would allow our district to meet the goal of consistent, reliable transportation for students.
How Would a Three-Tier Schedule Work?
Each school will be assigned start and end times, just like they are now. The draft start times for each school are available on the district website.
What Time Would Each Tier Start?
In the current draft, we are considering these approximate start times:
Your Thoughts or Questions
We expect to move forward with the plan for a three-tier system of start times. We know there will be questions and challenges in this transition.
Please use this Let’s Talk link to submit questions and any challenges we might not have considered yet.
The three-tier bell times will be included in the SPS Transportation Service Standards for 2022-23. This document must be approved by the Seattle School Board each year.
April 21-May 18: School and community feedback collected and considered.
April 21: School Board Operations Committee — Reviews the recommended proposal and decides whether to send it to the full School Board. Changes to the recommendation can be made before the board introduction.
May 4: School Board meeting — Introduction of the Transportation Service Standards
May 18: School Board meeting — Board vote on Transportation Service Standards
We understand that any changes to school schedules can provide challenges. This change is necessary to ensure students arrive at school on time.
Ashley Davies, Executive Director of Operations
Fred Podesta, Assistant Superintendent for Operations