Take Transportation Action

We’re hoping you join us in the fight to restore bus service for Stevens students who live south of Madison. We are raising community awareness about the situation through the press, we’re contacting the city government, and we’re reaching out to neighboring communities about the potential traffic impacts of this loss of bus service. You can give your voice to this critical issue by writing to the school board members, and also by signing our online petition. Please feel free, also, to share your ideas or questions with Stevens PTA co-presidents Rusty Hibbert at rustyh@stevenspta.org or Emily Lieberman at emilyl@stevenspta.org.

Steps to take:

 

1) Please take a moment to sign our petition at Change.org and help us show Seattle Public Schools how important this issue is to families and our community: http://www.change.org/petitions/seattle-public-schools-restore-bus-service-for-stevens-students

2) Please email our Seattle Public School representatives below and ask them to restore bus service to Stevens for all families living in the 2013-2014 Stevens boundary until the current kindergarten class graduates:

 

Stephan Blanford, District V Board Director, stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Jose Banda, Superintendent – jlbanda@seattleschools.org

Charles Wright, Deputy Superintendent – cewright1@seattleschools.org

Pegi McEvoy, Asst Superintendent, Operations – pmcevoy@seattleschools.org

Flip Herndon, Asst Superintendent, Capital, Facilities & Enrollment Planning-ltherndon@seattleschools.org

Kenneth Gotsch, Assistant Superintendent, Budget & Finance – kcgotsch@seattleschools.org

Lesley Rogers, Chief Communications Officer – larogers1@seattleschools.org

Bob Westgard, Director of Logistics- bwestgard@seattleschools.org

 

Important information regarding our Requested Change to the Seattle Public Schools’ 2014-15 Transportation Plan

 

As a result of the new transportation plan, many students assigned to Stevens Elementary as their attendance area school for the 2013-2014 academic year and earlier will lose bus transportation. Beginning in September, students living outside the new 2014-15 attendance area boundary will no longer be provided bus transportation. Even though these students are grandfathered to remain at Stevens through the 5th grade this policy change will force many to transfer schools.

 

We request that Seattle Public Schools restore bus service to the affected area until the 2013-14 Stevens kindergarteners are promoted to middle school.

 

Following is documentation supporting the reasons for this request:

 

1. This decision is a contradiction to District Policy recommendations and was poorly communicated. The Superintendent’s Student Transportation Taskforce Recommendations dated August 30, 2012, laid out a long term plan for SPS transportation policies. (The document is available to read in full here: http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Departmental%20Content/transportation/S2T2_Final_Recommendations.pdf?sessionid=eae134abd7a3a609382767abf22a9787)

 

At the top of page 6, the document reads as follows (emphasis added):

 

Long Term: 2014 – 2015 or 2015 – 2016: Schedule

Major changes in student transportation services will require major community engagement. Further, any changes in student transportation services must be understood by parents and students before they make enrollment decisions. Therefore changes for the 2014 – 2015 school year will need to be explained and adopted in the Fall of 2013. If appropriate community engagement cannot be accomplished prior to the Fall of 2013, major changes should be postponed until the 2015 – 2016 school year.

 

There was no community engagement regarding these changes for the 2014-2015 academic year during the Fall of 2013. Students living in the affected area were notified they would be losing bus service in a letter received on February 28, 2014. This was five days into the SPS open enrollment period, and well after the school open houses, leaving inadequate time for families to consider this change when making a decision about their 2014-15 school choice.

 

2. Changes disproportionally affect minority, ELL, and special education students disrupting these students’ education and negatively impacting the school’s diversity

Stevens has an incredibly vibrant, healthy community that values its diversity and is committed to meeting the needs of all students. The current Stevens student demographics very closely mirror the overall SPS student demographics (information from the OSPI website).

Student Demographics Stevens Elementary Seattle Public Schools
White 46.2% 44%
Special Education 15.2% 14.7%
Free/Reduced Lunch 39.9% 41.6%
ELL 10.1% 7.5%

 

When the new attendance boundaries and bus service cuts are applied to the current Stevens attendance area demographics, minority, ELL, and special education students are disproportionally affected by these changes.

 

2013 – 2014 Stevens Elementary Student Demographics
Total Students Live Within 14-15 Boundaries % of Student Population Live Outside 14-15 Boundaries % of Student Population
Total Students 406 181 44.6% 225 55.4%
Special Education 51 15 8.2% 36 16%
ELL 83 24 13.2% 59 26%
White Students 192 101 55.8% 91 40.4%
Non-White Students 215 80 44.2% 135 59.6%

 

The fact that many of these families will be forced to change schools due to lack of transportation will disrupt these students’ education. Frequent interruption in school assignment is linked to a long term decrease in academic success, as numerous studies have shown, and it is especially problematic for students from marginalized groups.

 

According to national estimates, one-third of 4th graders, one-fifth of 8th graders, and one-tenth of 12th graders have changed schools at least once in the previous two years. Changes in schools, particularly during the academic year, can impede children’s academic progress and decrease social competence. School mobility has the strongest effect during early elementary and high school, with multiple school transfers leading to worse effects. Low-income and minority children are more likely to transfer schools than their more economically advantaged and non-minority peers. (The Negative Effects on Instability on Child Development, Sandstrom and Huerta, Urban Institute, September 2013).

 

Furthermore, SPS will be dismantling its most accurate mirror, found within one school, of the district’s own incredible diversity.

 

3. The neighborhood affected by the attendance area change has suffered an inequitable amount of disruption throughout the school closure process and implementation of the new enrollment and transportation policies. This neighborhood has now been assigned to four different elementary schools since the 2008-2009 academic year: TT Minor, Leschi/Lowell, Stevens, and now Madrona. The neighborhood affected by this change is not in the walk-zone for any public Seattle elementary school, including Madrona K-8, the attendance area school for this area beginning in the 2014-2015 school year. Therefore, SPS is obligated to provide busing to this student population. It seems there would be no cost difference whether this transportation was provided to Stevens or Madrona. Furthermore, the school within the walk-zone for this area, TT Minor, is slated to reopen as the World School in 2016, leaving this community with no viable walk-zone elementary school available to them in the foreseeable future.

 

 

4. Conflicting information was given regarding the reason for the policy change. In the letter mailed to the Stevens families affected by the transportation changes and in communication from the Superintendent’s office cutting our neighborhood’s, bus service was explained as a fiscal decision. However, when the decision was questioned by the community, researched by the Transportation Department, and revisited by the Superintendent’s Cabinet, the reason listed for not continuing bus service is noted as being related to school capacity. There is no mention of the bus cancellation having any financial consequences and the decision did not address the potential inequity that would be caused by these changes. Furthermore, when the 2014-15 enrollment projections are analyzed the change in attendance area boundary will adequately address the Stevens capacity issue without eliminating bus transportation for grandfathered students.

 

Below are notes from the Superintendent’s Cabinet meeting on May 1, 2014 (emphasis added):

 

Response from Superintendent’s Cabinet Meeting

 

The implementation of the Board’s goals of reducing costs and implementing the new boundary work created some potential areas of concerns. The Superintendent’s Cabinet asked the Transportation to review impacts and mitigate any unintended consequences around equity and capacity. At the Superintendent’s Operations Cabinet on May 1st, the Transportation Department presented the disaggregated data for elementary schools, discussed the Board’s intention on the changes to the Student Assignment Plan and the updated Transportation Service Standards. After this review, the Ops Cabinet recommended the following minor modifications to the Transportation Standards for FY 2014-2015 to address the unintended effects of boundary and transportation changes.

 

The following exceptions to the 2014-2015 Transportation Standards are one year exceptions and will be reviewed for potential inclusion for future years through the legislative process.

 

1.     Graham Hill will receive two additional buses to address equity South and West of the current FY2013-2014 Transportation Boundary.

2.     Concord International School will receive one express bus on a first come- first served basis in the Denny-Sealth area. The location of the shuttle will be established as routing proceeds.

3.     McDonald – Changes meet the intent of Board adopted changes without equity impacts, therefore no additional service is recommended.

4.     Stevens – Changes meet the intent of Board adopted changes to manage capacity, therefore no additional service is recommended.

5.     South Shore requested the school be moved from tier 3 to tier 1 for safety concerns to avoid older students using the onsite Community Center as students are dismissed from South Shore. Community outreach was conducted by South Shore, and the community supports the move. The changes will be made to the arrival/departure times and the School bell time will be adjusted accordingly.

6.     Transportation will work with K-8 schools to enhance space availability notification to enable 6-8 students to ride with their K-5 siblings on a space available basis.

 

Please take a moment to sign our petition at Change.org and help us show Seattle Public Schools how important this issue is to families and our community: http://www.change.org/petitions/seattle-public-schools-restore-bus-service-for-stevens-students

 

Please email our Seattle Public School representatives below and ask them to restore bus service to Stevens for all families living in the 2013-2014 Stevens boundary until the current kindergarten class graduates:

Stephan Blanford, District V Board Director, stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Jose Banda, Superintendent – jlbanda@seattleschools.org

Charles Wright, Deputy Superintendent – cewright1@seattleschools.org

Pegi McEvoy, Asst Superintendent, Operations – pmcevoy@seattleschools.org

Flip Herndon, Asst Superintendent, Capital, Facilities & Enrollment Planning-ltherndon@seattleschools.org

Kenneth Gotsch, Assistant Superintendent, Budget & Finance – kcgotsch@seattleschools.org

Lesley Rogers, Chief Communications Officer – larogers1@seattleschools.org

Bob Westgard, Director of Logistics- bwestgard@seattleschools.org

 

You may contact Stevens PTA Co-Presidents, Rusty Hibbert at rustyh@stevenspta.org or Emily Lieberman at emilyl@stevenspta.org

 

 

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