Transportation Task Force


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FCPS 2007 Transportation Task Force Minority Report

FCPS 2007 Transportation Task Force Majority Report

FCPS Transportation Task Force

The school board established a Transportation Task Force in 2007.   One mission of the task force was to evaluate possible bell schedule changes toward achieving a later high school start time. 

The Majority Report proposed a late-bell schedule change to be considered by the School Board.  They concluded: We believe the bell schedule we propose, when combined with the service parameter changes we recommend achieves these beneficial later start times for the adolescents in Fairfax County in a way that is acceptable to the community.

The Minority Report raises several concerns about the Majority Report proposal including concerns about the negative impacts of the proposed change, and procedural issues, such as over-representation of some constituencies and under-representation of other groups on the task force. 

 

Voting Results - 56% support; 44% do not support                       

Summary of 2007 Transportation Task Force

Support

24

 

    SLEEP Advisory Council Member

 

7

    Not on SLEEP Advisory Council

 

17

Do Not Support

19

 

    Oppose

 

12

    Abstain

 

7

Total Votes

43

 

Participated/Not eligible to vote

16

 

Resigned (not replaced)

6

 

Resigned (and replaced)

2

 

No Vote

4

 

Total Committee Names

71

 

 

Some Concerns Raised in Minority Report

Membership & Community Representation

The Task Force membership over-represented affluent members of the community, and SLEEP members (the TTF Minority Report cites a SLEEP Letterhead listing its Advisory Council -- in addition to the two SLEEP founders, there were 5 additional members of the SLEEP advisory council that were on the TTF.  In addition, the spouse of the TTF Chairman is listed on the advisory council.)

The Task Force membership under-represented less affluent and disadvantaged members of the community, as well as the needs of Facilities and Transportation Services.

Voting procedures did not allow for Abstainers to adequately represent their views.

 

Task Force Charter and Mission

TTF's mission was to determine what re-engineering changes were needed to improve "operational efficiencies" and also to evaluate possible bell schedule changes.  Minority members believed re-engineering needed higher prominence; majority prioritized bell schedule changes.

The Minority believed that the proposed bell schedule changes went beyond limits of "community acceptability."

The Minority believed that bell-schedule options should have been weighed against the current bell schedule, to allow TTF to determine whether recommendations represented an improvement over the current system.   Instead, the only options that were considered were late-bell changes.

Interpretation and Representation of Research Studies

The Minority Report urges that great care should be taken in comparing FCPS to other school systems.  [Web Author's Note:  For example, while nearby Loudon County has later start times, it is significantly smaller than Fairfax.  The latest school start time (for regular non-academy schools) is 9am, with a dismissal time of 3:48.  In the FCPS proposal, thousands of students would start school at 9:40am and be dismissed at 4:30pm. Traffic patterns, number of buses, number of students, differ significantly between counties.]

Cited research in support of bell schedule changes was not consistently reviewed in full by TTF members. When the negative impacts from other jurisdictions are considered, the Minority members believed that those negative impacts outweighed the benefits.  (For example, a full study of the results in Minneapolis suggest negative effects of a late start click here )

Great weight was given to research supporting more sleep for teens.  However, other studies indicate the importance of athletic and extra-curricular activities.  click here   This research shows the proven positive benefits of involvement in athletics and extra-curricular activities, both of which could be disrupted by proposed changes.

Full Consideration of Negative Impacts

The Majority Report reflects the position that any anticipated negative impacts would be offset by the health, academic and quality of life improvements to students, families, and FCPS Employees.  The position of Minority members is that the negative impacts would be so numerous and varied across the County, that positive outcomes were not at all assured.  Negative effects on child care, after-school activities, and transportation services were of greatest concern.  Some of these negative effects are:

                     * reduced time for after-school programs would reduce their effectiveness

                     * participation in after-school programs and activities would decrease

                     * increased Kiss n Ride traffic if walking distances are increased

                     * increased unsupervised time for elementary school students - including 5th and

                         6th graders who are vulnerable to gang recruitment

                     * reduced employment opportunities after school for high school students

                     * School-Age Child Care (SACC) program unable to handle current demand for after-school

                       child-care; increased need after earlier dismissal time for elementary students could not

                       be met

                     * increased need for support staff coverage at Facilities & Transportation

Complexities of Interlocking Issues

The Majority Report reflects the position that a transition to late bell schedule would be challenging, but that organizations would adjust.  The position of Minority members was that a change in bell schedule would have both anticipated and unanticipated impacts on County residents and organizations.  The complexity of interlocking impacts and the cascade of possible unintended financial and social consequences were not fully examined by TTF.   For instance:

                    * Current use by students of non-FCPS facilities is organized to minimize the impact on

                       a facility's income potential from other sources.  Later dismissal times could push demand

                      for these facilities into the time usually used by non-students.  These facilities include:

                       Cross Country, Golf, Swim & Dive Teams, Softball Teams, Tennis Teams, Indoor Track

                    * Changing how 1,600 buses provide transportation for 110,000 students would have

                       significant impact on traffic congestion

                    * Disruptions are expected to affect: family routines, schedules, child supervision,

                       employment opportunities for students and parents, involvement in extra-curricular

                      activities and athletics, and more.