The Seattle School Board tonight approved a scaled back proposal to save money in transportation costs, ending a whirlwind two weeks of parent anger.
The revised plan will save an expected $250,000 to $500,000 by doubling the standard ride time, from 25 to 45 minutes, and delaying bell times at four to six elementary schools.
But it will not move high-, middle- and K-8 school start times up to an hour earlier, as recommended by an earlier, larger proposal released at the last School Board meeting, earlier this month.
More than 2,600 parents signed a petition against the original proposal, which would have saved about $1 million.
The creator of the petition, Cynthia Jatul, and others spoke at the meeting about the effect of start times on student achievement.
Some also criticized the district for the process behind the proposals, which did not include any parent engagement.
“The board leads the district on community engagement,” parent and blogger Charlie Mas said. “Right now you are moving it in the wrong direction.”
School district officials acknowledged that their process had flaws.
“It’s really unfortunate that it did play out in the way that it did,” School Board member Sherry Carr said.
In an interview before the meeting, incoming Interim Deputy Superintendent Bob Boesche expressed frustration at the community response.
“I truly appreciate that being on a bus now a little longer is perhaps seen by some people an inconvenience, or depending on some of the emails and nasty grams we got, a terrible thing,” Boesche said. “But I wish somebody would acknowledge that we were trying to do our levelheaded best to keep it away from the classroom. These are not easy decisions, not easy priorities.”
At a work session before the Wednesday meeting, School Board members agreed to dip into reserves to make up the lost savings.