By Sharon Salyer Herald Writer
EVERETT — If you want to get an earful from school parents, just propose changing the start and end times for the school day.
So far, people have responded 4,000 times to the Everett School District’s online survey on changing school schedules for the upcoming school year.
To encourage participation, the school district has contacted parents via email, phone messages, through its electronic newsletter plus Facebook and Twitter.
Parents, staff and the public can participate in the survey until 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The proposed changes in school days would affect most of the district’s schools.
Just how much of a change, though, would depend on which of the three options under consideration is adopted.
The most any school time could change — earlier or later— is 20 minutes.
Under one plan, most of the changes are starting and ending the school days 20 minutes earlier; under another, starting and ending it 20 minutes later. Under the third option, the change in start and end times is 10 minutes, either earlier or later, said Mary Waggoner, school district spokeswoman.
As one example, Madison Elementary School could start at 8:25 a.m., 8:35 a.m. or 8:45 a.m. The school day could end at 2:35 p.m., 2:45 p.m. or at 2:55 p.m.
Similar time changes are being considered at the district’s middle schools and all of its high schools except Sequoia.
The district is considering the change to help ease bus schedules increasingly slowed by traffic congestion, Waggoner said. Crowded roads are causing struggles in keeping the buses on schedule.
So far this year, the district has added three new bus routes and modified four others at Cascade and Jackson high schools to help ease scheduling problems, Waggoner said.
Those changes cost the district about $160,000, she said.
That’s money that could be used to support classroom work, Waggoner said. So the changes in school start and end times were proposed for next year to try to save that expense.
However, it’s too early to know how that money, if saved, might be used in the upcoming school year, she said.
Kim Guymon, who heads the Everett School Board Project, a citizens advocacy group, said she began hearing from parents shortly after the proposal was announced several weeks ago.
Elementary school start times could be pushed back to 9:35 a.m. Some parents would have to delay the start to their work day to nearly 10 a.m., Guymon said. That could create friction with bosses.
“I haven’t run into anyone who says ‘I don’t care,’” she said. “Everyone has a pretty passionate negative opinion on this.”
Kim Mead, president of the Everett Education Association, said she’s heard the most concern about the proposed later starts for elementary schools, since younger kids tend to be more alert earlier in the day compared to high school students.
Although the savings that could result from the scheduling changes are relatively small compared to the overall school district budget of $192 million, “any savings that we can have means there’s that much more they can put into the classroom,” Mead said. “I do understand why they’re taking a look at it.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Take the survey
The Everett School District has posted an online survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/KDQ8X26 for people to express their preferences on proposed school schedule changes next year. The survey closes at 8 a.m. Tuesday.