Seattle Public Schools plans to change its start times again — from three different times to just two.
Seattle Public Schools plans to change its start times again in the fall, simplifying a new system that, starting last fall, moved the first bell later for middle and high schools.
This year, the start times are 7:55 a.m., 8:45 a.m. and 9:35 a.m., with high schools and most middle schools starting later than they have in the past.
At a news conference, Mayor Ed Murray said he will ask the review board for the city’s Families and Education Levy to allocate $2.3 million from the levy to pay for additional school buses needed to move from three start times to two. Larry Nyland, superintendent of Seattle Public Schools, said families have requested that change.
Pending the review board’s approval, the start times for the 2017-18 school year will instead be 9 a.m. for all middle and high schools. Most K-8 schools would join that later schedule, with the exception of Broadview-Thomson, Madrona and South Shore PK-8 starting at 8 a.m.
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All but four elementary schools would start at 8 a.m. Concord International, Decatur, Lowell and Loyal Heights would start at 9 a.m.
“This change would build on our efforts to improve academic outcomes by aligning school-start times with student sleep patterns,” Nyland said in a statement.
Early data, he added, show that the later start times for high-school students have already led to increased attendance and less need for discipline.
According to surveys the district gives every two years, high-school sophomores and seniors are reporting that they’re getting more sleep on the average school night than in the past.
The city’s $2.3 million would be a one-time allocation, officials said.
In January, the district’s school board voted 5-2 to authorize Nyland to seek external funding to pay for the student-transportation changes. A spokesman for the district said the city funds would serve as a stopgap until the Washington Legislature passes a state budget that fully funds public schools, including the cost of transporting students.
Most high-school students who live more than 2 miles from school receive Metro bus passes for their transportation, but younger students generally take yellow school buses.
Murray is also proposing that $380,000 in levy money be used to pay for additional street-crossing guards at 107 locations near schools.
Neither buses nor crossing guards are needs that the levy approved by voters in 2011 was designed to pay for. But the mayor said he believes the allocations would be “consistent with the voter mandate” to help the city’s students learn.
City Council President Bruce Harrell, Councilmember Rob Johnson, School Board President Sue Peters and PTSA President Sabrina Burr hailed Murray’s proposal.
This story, originally published on April 24, has been corrected. Broadview-Thomson, Madrona and South Shore PK-8 schools have a proposed starting time of 8 a.m., not 9 a.m.