Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Report on buses and bells coming

A report on CMS busing options and bell schedules by a visiting team from the Council of the Great City Schools should be ready for release in September,  says Earnest Winston, chief of staff for Superintendent Heath Morrison.

Winston
The battle of the bells has been brewing since 2011, when then-Superintendent Peter Gorman created new "late bell" schedules and added 45 minutes to the elementary school day to save money on busing. As soon as Morrison was hired last summer, he started hearing concerns from parents and teachers. Based on reactions to the council visit a couple of weeks ago, it seems unlikely that the outside experts' report will end the conflict.

The goal is for the council team to combine their expertise in transportation and their knowledge of how other districts handle busing schedules with info provided by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and local interviews.  They'll assess alternatives that have been crafted by CMS staff, parents and teachers to see whether any are financially feasible and practically desirable. CMS is spending  "up to $18,000"  on the study, Winston said.

Plaza (L) and Thorsland (R)
But Susan Plaza and Sharon Thorsland,  twin sisters and CMS parents who have been among the leaders of the bell schedule group,  say their experience left them skeptical.  They asked Judy Kidd, a high school teacher who's president of the Classroom Teachers Association,  to join them in their meeting with the visiting team.  Plaza said Kidd has helped her group poll teachers about the impact of the schedules and they wanted her to help present the case.

Plaza and Kidd say Winston denied Kidd the chance to take part in the discussion with Plaza, Thorsland and other parents,  and wouldn't let her join a later session with teachers. Both said afterward they question the sincerity of the district's effort and don't think enough teachers who oppose the late bell schedule and the longer elementary day were interviewed.

"We just kind of feel like it was all done for show,"  Plaza said this week.

"I think it's going to be status quo,"  Kidd said.

Winston,  replying to an email from Plaza,  said he had set aside 90 minutes for the council team to talk with Plaza,  Thorsland and other volunteers who had spent months working with CMS staff to explore options.  Kidd wasn't part of that work,  he said,  noting that the group actually got two hours to make their case.  Winston said a number of teachers met with the council team,  not all of them supporters of the late schedule.   "In fact,"  he wrote,  "feedback compiled by (the Superintendent's Teacher Advisory Council)  highlighting an array of teacher concerns about the late-bell schedule was shared with the CGCS." Update: Winston says Kidd showed up part way through the session with Plaza and other parents and was allowed to stay for that, but was not allowed to attend the teacher session.

And so,  the debate seems likely to go on,  even after the Council of the Great City Schools weighs in.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gee,
Susan should have known that this was a whitewash in the making in the classic CMS sense as she was a former teacher. What would one expect from a Chief of Staff........... honesty, transparency, spin?

Anonymous said...

Study groups with input from "stakeholders" has long been one of CMS' methods of pretending to listen.

Wiley Coyote said...

Why do we need Morrison or any of the other top head honchos with their exorbitant salaries?

CMS keeps bringing in outside individuals and groups to assess and tell them how to run the schools. We even had our own 22 task forces decide what CMS should be doing through their recommendations.

Heath, if you can't make the hard decisions for CMS, go find another job so we can get someone in here who can.

And Judy, of course it's status quo. That's what public education is all about...

Show and status quo.

Anonymous said...

thank you ann for posting the amount being wasted on this topic.

Anonymous said...

My wife and love the late bell schedule. It saves us from putting our kids into after-care and saves us money too. It does not stress our kids and we still have time for sports and piano.

Geoman said...

The late bell is perfect for us, do not change a thing school board.

Anonymous said...

Still waiting on further information on "free breakfast for all." Is that going to have anything to do with possible earlier bus times? Let's hope not!!!
Although, I know kids are not allowed into the building until a certain time-Ann-what's the scoop on this?

Anonymous said...

Not surprised by the whitewash by CMS. Heath , tell me this How many families do you think with high performing students have left CMS since the late bell change? (its alot and it would help your graduation numbers) How many LIFT schools operate on the late bell schedule? Why would I as a parent after witnessing the negative late bell with my daughter not support a voucher system as a tax payer? Wiley is correct make a decision based on the facts and save alot of money in the mean time. NO MORE LATE BELL SCHEDULE. Their are 3 or 4 parents who like it for selfish reason that it eliminates after school care costs. They need to go on the CMS free after school program and think about their children. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Can someone post the bell schedules for the LIFT schools?

I get that parents do not like the late bell schedule, but it is better than the 7:45 start time. These kids still do all the same things are their counterparts who have the late bell schedule-but they need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier to catch the bus (in the dark). Go to a early bell schedule school and take a look at the kids-they are exhausted. In my opinion, that is the unfairness here.

Anonymous said...

go to an early bell schedule school and you can quickly see who was up too late. an early high school bell is AWESOME! school, sports, job, homework, and still time for the family to wind down together.

Anonymous said...

When Gorman and the BOE pushed this longer day for elementary kids and teachers, they (conveniently?) forgot to look at the failure when this was tried at Billingsley ES.

Clearly most of the board can not think past their noses at issues of educating our children. Our children have suffered too long at this PC makeup of the voting districts. Too many have been on the BOE that lack the common sense to run a school system. To make the budget work without changng the bus schedules, you simply had to change the WSS to 1.2. But no...., that would infuriate the entitlement of the urban crowd even though that money has shown no positive academic effects.

Christine Mast said...

Allenbrook 7:45-2:45
Ashley Park, Bruns, Druid Hills, Thomasboro, Walter G Byers. all. 8:15-3:15
Statesvile rd 8-3
Ranson Middle 9:15-4:15
W Charlotte HS 7:15-2:15

Anonymous said...

9:32- Its had a negative affect on gradution rate as alot of families have left CMS with their high performing students. This whole system is a mess and CMS tries to put the spin on everything. Families I know use other family members address to get around the late bell schedule. When CMS wakes up it will be too late and students suffer. Keith W. Hurley

Wiley Coyote said...

Keith,

Perhaps you missed the miraculous turnaround of gradution rates in CMS, with West Charlotte's rate jumping a whopping 15 percentage points in one year and CMS' rate now at 81%.

It's a miracle I tell you!

The bell schedule had no effect at all.

Anonymous said...

Wiley,
I beleive those graduation numbers about as much as you do! On this late bell issue its such a slight to have these 2 idividuals who have poured hours of research into this negative late bell to be treated this way. The to have Judy held out of a meeting I ask what are you trying to hide CMS? I have had similar meeting and the fact is I am done with that group. I am pushing the state for vouchers for every child so CMS will wake up. Simple facts point to a very unprofessional group downtown within CMS that is not even worth the efforts by most. When this group leaves maybe public schools will have a chance in Charlotte? Maybe not if Raleigh does not support the teachers. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

This is one topic we need to just drop!! How long can we complain about something in this country? We have bigger issues to worry about! Suck it up and move on to, lets think.... teacher pay, accountability, technology....

Wiley Coyote said...

Keith,

Isn't it amazing how for decades bell schedules weren't an issue?

There is a concensus somewhere of what the optimal bell schedule should be.

Implement it and move on.

Those parents who don't like it, too bad. Put your kids elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Wiley , I agree make a decision a valid one and move on. My daughter goes in at 9:15 to Carmel Middle. Gets home at 5:00 and has homework. She struggles with Dance,Soccer and Swim as others do. Middle school has some demanding course work for kids who are not afraid to tackle it. Some of her neighborhood kids just go to AG Middle for the early bell so they can do the other activities. I encourage the sports/arts since I feel it helps kids grow outside a classroom. It costs me about $600 a month to send my twins to after school care since they are on the early bell and I am not complaining. Drive to the store today at lunch. Then do it again at dinner. Tomorrow just do it at lunch. The tell me which day it cost less and which more. You have just solved the school bus bell schedule move on. Keith W. Hurley

Christine Mast said...

Let's not forget that CMS is possibly out of compliance with two State Statutes, as a result of the longer day / late bell schedule.

Anonymous said...

Longer day (as usual)

No extra money for salary or benefits.

PAY THE TEACHERS

Anonymous said...

Did Plaza and Thorsland not get the memo as explained by other elected officials? If you're white and middle class, your opinion matters very little in today's Mecklenburg County.

Anonymous said...

If they really focused, they could probably get all the real school work done in about 4 hours and call it a day.

Anonymous said...

Until we stop paying those high taxes and call Raleigh into do a revaluation. (Like what happended)
Hogwash and underhanded way CMS treated them and they wonder why nobody trusts them. The next Heath will fix it all I am betting.

Anonymous said...

28 to 24 credits.
New method of counting students who "moved".
Graduation rate probably got worse if comparing apples to apples.

Ann Doss Helms said...

7:11, method of counting students who move isn't new and isn't CMS. It's the way the state system works.

Susan Plaza said...

Wiley and others,
We are working to make positive changes in the bell schedules for teachers and children. Parent opinions and schedules are not important, mine included. We are looking at what is best for children - free daycare is not a valid reason to support this schedule. Teachers are working longer with no additional pay, teachers are leaving late bell schools. Most late bell schools are home schools, we cannot go someplace else unless we leave CMS. I think many people would have a new opinion of this schedule if it was happening to their child.

Wiley Coyote said...

Susan,

With all due respect, you obviously didn't read my comments.

My opinion is that CMS should implement the best practice bell schedule that is most beneficial to the majority of persons involved; the teachers and students. Those in the minority opinion will just have to live with the decision.

My son has been out of CMS for two years and during the 13 years he was in CMS, not once did my wife and I ever have a problem with whatever the bell schedule was during any school year.

Anonymous said...

sham

Anonymous said...

Crafted by parents, teachers, and CMS Staff. SERIOUSLY Ann? He plan has been crafted by CMS Staff please stop giving the public this false sense or impression that simply is not true. I realize you don't want to be shut out of Te CMS information loop....but the info you get is so district driven it is sickening. Let me guess 7 teachers who are trying to add some functions onto their Evaulation sat in on some meeting and said 4 things that no one listened to and that somehow means crafting. I was a member of one of the 22 task force groups and was beyond amazed at the complete and utter lack of purpose and direction of the meetings. NOW 17,000 teachers are being asked to attend a PEP Rally for the upcoming school year because that somehow is related to these sweeping positive changes that increase the "shareholders" involved?????

Anonymous said...

Was Judy held out due to the fact that she is the President of the NCEA.... A Union affiliated group... And because the state of NC does not allow Collective Bargaining, perhaps the district viewed this chat as a collective discussion which could be consider bargaining by some nutty Judge. ANN perhaps that may be a stone you could uncover.....

Anonymous said...

Are all CMS staff expected to attend the PEP RALLY??? Per CMS document :
"Wednesday, August 21, required workday CMS will hold a PEP Rally at Time Warner Arena 8:30 AM to 11:30 AM. "

Notice the date and time. Workdays start 8/19 ..... Just about 99% of all schools will have staff sit in an open staff meeting until noon on Monday. Teachers will have 3 hours (1 to 4) to actually get into rooms ....bulletin boards, hook up computers, arrange furniture, have content team meetings, and etc.... TUESDAY 8/20 all teachers report to specified locations or schools ( not their own) for mandatory content workshops ( not PowerSchool no one has even seen the new grade book or attendance program because NO ONE HAS BEEN TRAINED IN IT) So this day is a wash for teachers to get into their rooms and actually work.....ROOMS STILL IN COMPLETE DISSARRAY???? . 8/21 A useless PEP Rally during RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC that starts at 830 till 1130 am... Parking???? On the same day that the majority of schools have an Open House/ Campus ( most high schools at night Elementary during the day)... So rather than working to get CLASSROOMS presentable for Open Houses someone thinks it is a good idea to hold a PEP Rally so teachers can hear overpaid and out of touch people speak..... BEST YET THEY WILL PROBABLY THROW TEACHERS FROM THOSE TASK FORCES UNDER THE BUS by asking them to speak.... I smell a nightmare..... 8/ 22 the only teacher workday that gives staff the entire day to collaborate and actually prepare for kids ( you know.. Get 200 books from textbook closet to each room for kids, develop unit lesson plans, hook up technology, troubleshoot problems etccccc.... THEN and this is a prediction not something set in stone.....8/23 a required and protected CMS day..... All staff will be trained in POWERSCHOOL........ pep rally wow. Listen I am not even on the fringe of being bitter but seriously....Playoffs?

Ann Doss Helms said...

11:33, Kidd is president of Classroom Teachers Association, which is not affiliated with NEA/NCEA.

11:19, most of the options in question were initiated by the group of parents and teachers that Plaza and Thorsland are involved with. CMS execs worked with them, but are not the driving force behind exploring options. That's a big reason why there's so much tension around these talks.

Anonymous said...

Susan-aren't most elementary schools with the late bell schedule some sort of magnet? I live in the suburbs-so not sure of the magnet part since we do not have any! Ha

I'd rather have late than early. Everything your kids are doing with the late schedule mine are doing with the early bell. The whole family is in a constant state of rush. Early bells are not family friendly when both parents work. But, you get through it eventually. It really bothers me when those with the start time (not in the dark) complain. I'd trade that schedule in a heartbeat.

Anonymous said...

8:42- Then go ahead move in town for a late bell schedule and higher taxes on your home. We welcome you as many that move to Fort Mill have homes for sale in Myers Park. I suggest keeping your other home as a rental since you will want to go back after 1 year with a late bell life.

Anonymous said...

@9:47-don't understand your comment about higher taxes. Meck County is Meck County. Your statement makes no sense. You couldn't pay me to live near Myers Park. We will have to deal with the late schedule at middle school. Most people like that-even the families with 2 working parents. Based on your response, I take it both parents in your family do not work.
Let's fight now about the suburban classes being crowded and not enough resources allotted to them.I am sure your schools don't have kids sitting on the floor since there aren't enough desks. Oh, I forgot-no one cares!

Ann-can you find out if the LIFT schools still participate in the sister school program?

Anonymous said...

10:08- My comment was - go ahead sell your home with $4000 tax bill and move intown with a $15,000 tax bill and a late bell. Come on down ! We have plenty of over crowded class rooms and understaffed schools. The commute will be shorter as well since you wont be in the burbs. And your wrong I have a dual working household with a huge income. I have kids on a early bell and kids on a late bell. I also volunteer at both schools due to lack of staff. Basically a 14 hour day and you too can have this so bring it.

Anonymous said...

@11-congrats on the huge income and the monster house.

why don't you move then? Sorry if you hate the 'burbs. Our schools are crowded, but the comforts of living exceed that. Our schools are just as understaffed, if not more. Our TD teachers-used not for TD but for struggling kids.

Everyday with kids is a 14 hour day.

Get over yourself and Myers Park. Much rather have my kids go to a safer school out in the burbs.

Solution for all would be to get rid of all magnets.

Wiley Coyote said...

11:30,

Excellent idea to further dumb down the CMS student population by eliminating magnets.

Anonymous said...

11:53- Lets just chalk her last comment up to being a frustrated housewife that lives in the burbs. I have tried to help her understand value and education just does not seem to work. Maybe the clean air in the burbs is getting too her? I bet its more like she has to keep up with her kids since school is not in session during summer break. Clearly they cannot get into the magnet program she wants closed.

Anonymous said...

12:02-let's see, the magnet program my child is eligible for (TD) is located at Shamrock Elementary. Why the heck would I put him on a bus at least 45 minutes each way to that horrible area?
Maybe eliminating magnets is too strong, but how about getting there yourself with CMS spending over $1000 per child on transportation?


You've tried to help understand value and education? Really, all I took from that is that YOU are a bored housewife in MP with nothing but time on your entitled hands.

Wiley Coyote said...

12:58

It's at Shamrock because of diversity and political correctness, just like most magnets.

If you want your child to attend that magnet, deal with it. Otherwise, send them to your neighborhood home school.

Anonymous said...

Wiley-I do not have the problem. I send my children to the neighborhood school and deal with the bell times. What my point was is that you just deal with it and being a parent is a 24/7 job. Those of us with the early bell get over it. Apparently those in MP do not. Please understand that those complaining about the late schedule seem to forget that the early schedule children are doing EVERYTHING their kids are-they are just going to bed earlier and waking up earlier. CRY ME A RIVER people with the late schedule.
when my children go to the middle school with the late schedule we will have to get before school care for them and we are fine with that. DEAL WITH IT PEOPLE.
For the record, no thanks on that magnet. I like my child close to home-like how I went through school.

Susan Plaza said...

There are 29,000 students on the late bell, just under 10,000 are magnet students. This schedule is not good for young children or teachers. Please name one thing about this schedule that directly benefits teachers or children, not parents. Please ask your teacher their opinion, ask how it is affecting their classroom and student learning. Ask how it is impacting their health, their students' health. We have spoken to hundreds of teachers and administrators - their statements are overwhelmingly negative.

Anonymous said...

You mention speaking with hundreds of parents, if even 1000 families complain out of the 29000 you mention that's 3% overall, are you saying that 3% should dictate bell schedules to the other 97%? If that's so, where does it stop. If 3% can change schedules, then what's to stop anyone from getting 3% to demand that CMS teach the metric system?

Anonymous said...

I'll name one thing...you ever wait with your 5 year old in the dark for a bus to arrive at 6:30am?

Then 12 hours later, have the entire family rush through their evening after dinner, homework, sports, baths to put your children to bed so they aren't fully exhausted to start the next day?

you people with the late bell as WHINNERS! You can't imagine the stress of the early bell at all. Walk in our shoes. You get use to it.

Everything you are doing-we do it too. Get over it. In regards to dr. visits, ect.-same thing. DEAL WITH IT. It's called life. You people are unbelievable.

I get emails frequently to sign petitions. Sorry-no dice. Too bad you can't see the forest through the trees. Use your energy to fix something that benefits all. Like changing the start time for all high schools to 8am. It can be done!

Mamma mia said...

The real problem is the 7:15am bell schedule. All scientific evidence proves this (see link below). Just because the 9:15am schedule is an inconvenience to some families is NOT a reason to change it.

https://www.facebook.com/StartSchoolLater

Anonymous said...

to Susan Plaza, although I do admire your passion and hard work on this subject, there is no evidence that the later bell schedule negatively impacts the health of a child, that is a gross leap on your part. I have 2 children at a 9:15 middle school and it works great for us and they are doing quite well academically, physically and emotionally.

Anonymous said...

I love reading these comments. My children went to a 7:30am elementary school in CMs for years and it was awful. They were tired all the time and missed out on evening activities because of an early bedtime. The teachers I spoke with hated it too. And going to the bus stop at 6:45am in the dark with a bunch of elem students was a crime. Kids almost got hit by high school students racing out to the neighborhood to get to school by 7am. Ridiculuous. ALL SCHOOLS should start between 7:45 - 9:15am.

Anonymous said...

My son attends communtyhouse middle school in the south charlotte area at 9:15. I schedule his appts at 8am and this works for my schedule, he also participates in football and baseball at night, and does his homework at that time. He has time in the morning before his 8:20am bus too. We love it, so it works for us.

Mamma Mia said...

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139


Sign this national petition to promote legislation to require all schools to start after 8am.

Anonymous said...

susan Plaza, is there data from all of the 9:15am schools that the test scores have dropped at these schools?

Anonymous said...

so I guess we will not know until a few days before school starts if bus times are even earlier now due to free breakfast for all.

Mamma Mia said...

Considerable research confirms the relationship between school start times, sleep deprivation, and student performance, truancy, and absenteeism, as well as depression, mood swings, impulse control, tobacco and alcohol use, impaired cognitive function and decision-making, obesity, stimulant abuse, automobile accidents, and suicide. Mounting evidence about the biology of adolescent sleep, and about the impact of later start times, shows that starting school before 8 a.m. not only undermines academic achievement but endangers health and safety. Because logistical and financial issues prevent local school systems from establishing safe and educationally defensible hours, however, legislation mandating start times consistent with student health and educational well-being is essential.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/promote-legislation-to.fb1?source=s.fb&r_by=1521139

Anonymous said...

This is a topic near and dear to my heart since I have taken both of my children out of
CMS due to the 7:15am High School start time. They are thriving and have a much healthier and happier life now that they start school at 8:30am. Huge difference in their emotional, academic and athletic performance. They have time to get homework done, sleep 9 hours and eat a good breakfast. Highly recommend it!

Anonymous said...

In 2007, the state and federal funding for CMS magnet schools ended, and CMS was forced to find ways to make up for this budget shortfall. Teacher and teacher assistant resources have been stripped from the outer/suburban schools since and most recently "efficiencies" were obtained by changing bell schedules in order to offset the magnet school transportation costs no longer being covered by state and federal monies.

Anonymous said...

Some parents want early start times, so their kids get out of school early enough to play golf at the country club in the early afternoon.

Some parents want late start times, so their kids get the recommended amount of sleep, so they don't fall asleep in class each day.

Why doesn't CMS offer flexible scheduling to those who want it, and ask those families to drive their own kids to school? Many of them are driving their kids to school already, anyway.....

Linda S. said...

Ann, you note that the "battle of the bells has been brewing since 2011, when then-Superintendent Peter Gorman created new "late bell" schedules and added 45 minutes to the elementary school day to save money on busing". I think it has been brewing much longer than that. My children are all graduated and gone now but while we were in the system, there was much negative talk about the early high school bell schedules as well, and apparently on deaf ears as well.

Anonymous said...

11:35 Like!

Tamara said...

Wiley, you had one son in the system? That's why you didn't have any problems with it.

Anonymous said...

To 11:35 CMS could be a real innovator on the idea of flexible school start times and no cost options for parents who choose to send their children to another CMS school, other than their neighborhood school. I agree that if a parent does not want their child to go the nearest/neighborhood school that they should have to provide the transportation to the new school, or have to pay for it. It's a no brainer.

Susan F. said...

Realistically there is not one CMS teacher that can say that students perform better and are more alert and ready to learn at 7;15 in the morning. I know because I am one.

High Flyer said...

Mr. Winston, fyi the buses running now are at 50% or less actual ridership. Why is CMS running so many routes? They should decrease routes per school by 25% and save a lot of money and time. This would allow the system to have more reasonable school start and end times.

Christine Mast said...

Bottom line, CMS may be in violation of two State Statutes right now.

Regardless of your thoughts on the later day and late bell schedule, we cannot allow CMS to break the law.

Barb Noonan said...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-smarter-way-to-start-high-schoolers-days/2013/08/18/e2d24276-f49f-11e2-9434-60440856fadf_story.html

Another story in the Washington Post about the benefits of later high school start times.

Anonymous said...

I live in Fort Mill and we are getting ready to start our school year. Thankfully our high schools start at 8:30am and somehow our students are successful in athletics and post-schoolday activities.