City of Seattle announces more than $2.65 million to streamline school start times and improve school traffic safety

Today, Mayor Ed Murray announced that he will propose $2.3 million in startup funding to help Seattle Public Schools students get more sleep and be better equipped for academic success. The funding will help SPS implement a two-tiered bell schedule (down from three), in response to requests from families. Mayor Murray will request the Families and Education Levy review board support the allocation, which is needed to fund additional school buses to sustain the new schedule. Additionally, the Mayor will also propose $380,000 to increase safety by maintaining crossing guards during school hours.

“The City of Seattle is happy to contribute this funding to help the School District better serve our students and put them in a position to succeed,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “This use of Families and Education Levy resources will go to implementing a better bell schedule and helping our students get to and from school safely. These are our children and I am committed to ensure they have all the tools they need to get a great education.”

After listening to parents, community partners and teachers, the City concluded that the health and academic welfare of students would be greatly increased by supporting the change of Seattle Public School start times from the current three-tier system to a two-tier one. This change will cost $2.3 million in startup costs, which the Mayor will propose to the Families and Education Levy Oversight Committee as well as City Council.

“Thanks to the Mayor’s generosity and City support, Seattle Public Schools may be able to eliminate third tier busing for 2017-18. This means that in 2017-18 schools would start at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. This change would build on our efforts to improve academic outcomes by aligning school start times with student sleep patterns. Early data show that SPS high school students are already benefiting from adjusted start times with increased attendance and decreased discipline. The City’s investment would not only support improved school start times, but fund crossing guards for our schools. Thank you to the Mayor and the City of Seattle for recognizing our need and working to support our students, families and community,” said Superintendent Larry Nyland.

“As a parent and former PTSA member, one of our most important jobs is making sure our children show up prepared at school,” said Council President Bruce Harrell. “Students are more rested and engaged in the classroom when they show up alert and ready to learn. Sleep can have a cascading positive impact on enhancing academic performance. I look forward to seeing favorable results immediately.”

“As a councilmember and a father of two, soon to be three, daughters in the Seattle Public School system, I believe this is an important investment to help our students thrive in school and beyond,” said Councilmember Rob Johnson. “The proposed one-time funds to facilitate the move to a two-tier start time model will align the school day better with the time of day students are apt to learn their best, will help buses keep on schedule to ensure kiddos get to school on time, and will make it easier for families to access critical after school opportunities, like tutoring and behavioral support. When we invest in Seattle Public School students and their families, we invest in positive outcomes for our entire city. I am proud to be part of this partnership, and look forward to seeing more examples of this kind of collaboration.”

When Seattle Public Schools changed school start times for elementary and secondary schools in the 2016-2017 academic year, they saw positive changes in both longer reported hours of student sleep and reduced levels of discipline in high school students. These outcomes follow years of research around the American Association of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association’s recommendation to more closely align school start times with students’ biological and sleeping patterns.

“From my time as principal at Rainier Beach High School I know getting kids to school rested and ready to learn is one of the greatest challenges facing parents and teachers,” said Department of Education and Early Learning Director Dwane Chappelle. “Today’s announcement means we can work to ease the lives of parents and students, as well as create a healthier student body.”

Costs for district transportation are reimbursed by the state using a funding formula based on the prior year’s cost. The City’s transportation investment is one time.

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