Seattle board approves changes in school start times

SEATTLE -- The  Seattle school board voted 6-1 Wednesday night to push back bell times for teens.

Beginning next fall, high schools and middle schools will start almost an hour later, at 8:45 a.m., and most elementary schools will start nearly an hour earlier, at 7:55 a.m.

However, not everyone will benefit from the move, including 13 elementary and K-8 schools left in “tier 3”, where start times will be pushed back to 9:35 a.m.

Before the vote, parents, teachers and even doctors gave testimony in support for pushing back school start times, as did those from the 13 schools who feel they are getting the raw end of the deal.

“It’s not a win, unless it benefits all kids,” said Carin Towne, a parent with a second-grader at Laurelhurst Elementary School, which is under “tier 3.”

Those on the committee who fought to push back school times admit the plan only benefits 83 percent of students, but they also say the fight isn’t over.

“It’s not the end, we keep going,” said Cindy Jatul, a parent and a teacher.

The school district cited cost and streamlining transportation as the main reasons why it couldn’t accommodate every school under this plan, but school leaders say they will look at enrollment numbers in the spring to see if adjustments can be made before the changes take place in the fall of 2016.

School board member Sharon Peaslee said the move will make Seattle a leader and open the doors for other districts to follow suit.

"This is a historic event," she said at the school board meeting.