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School Start Times

Summary: Seattle Public Schools is proposing a change to bell times (school start and end times) for the next school year.

Proposed Change to School Start Times for 2022-23

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is proposing a change to bell times (school start and end times) for the next school year. If approved, this new schedule would begin on the first day of school. September 7 is the first day of school for 1st-12th grade students. September 12 is the first day of kindergarten. 

The School Board will vote on the 2022-23 Transportation Service Standards, which includes bell times for all schools, in May. 

We know that changing the bell times will mean adjustments for families and staff.  

Why the Change? 

Currently, there are two tiers of start times for our schools — one start time for most elementary students, and one start time for secondary students (grades 6-12) and K-8 schools. If approved, the change will put a three-tier system in place. 

This school year, there have been challenges in providing reliable yellow bus service for eligible students because of a nationwide driver shortage.  

There have not been enough drivers available for the number of school buses we need for the current start times. This means our district had to suspend some bus routes, and some buses arrived one to two hours late.  

There are currently 50 suspended school bus routes due to a lack of drivers. The nationwide shortage of school bus drivers is expected to continue next year.  

Moving to a three-tier system of start times would allow each driver to drive more routes and reduce the number of drivers needed. This would allow our district to meet the goal of consistent, reliable transportation for students. 

How Would a Three-Tier Schedule Work?  

Each school will be assigned start and end times, just like they are now.  The draft start times for each school are available on the Bell Time Changes webpage. 

What Time Would Each Tier Start?  

In the current draft, we are considering these approximate start times: 

  • Tier 1: Start 7:30 a.m. 
  • Tier 2: Start 8:30 a.m. 
  • Tier 3: Start 9:30 a.m. 

Your Thoughts or Questions 

We expect to move forward with the plan for a three-tier system of start times. We know there will be questions and challenges in this transition.  

Please use this Let’s Talk link to submit questions and any challenges we might not have considered yet. 

Timeline 

The three-tier bell times will be included in the SPS Transportation Service Standards for 2022-23. This document must be approved by the Seattle School Board each year.  

April 21-May 18: School and community feedback collected and considered.  

April 21: School Board Operations Committee — Reviews the recommended proposal and decides whether to send it to the full School Board. Changes to the recommendation can be made before the board introduction. 

May 4: School Board meeting — Introduction of the Transportation Service Standards 

May 18: School Board meeting — Board vote on Transportation Service Standards 

We understand that any changes to school schedules can provide challenges. This change is necessary to ensure students arrive at school on time. 

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