Family Engagement Survey - February 25 to March 24, 2020 - Learn More

Overview: (I) Bellevue Deputy Superintendent Eva Collins and facilitator Dick Withycombe welcomed committee members and reviewed the agenda. (II) The committee discussed two additional research documents. (III) The committee reviewed a draft protocol for the upcoming KingCo focus group. (IV) District groups planned school­based outreach strategies. (V) Dick reviewed remaining meeting dates.

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Bellevue Deputy Superintendent Eva Collins welcomed committee members and provided an overview of the meeting, which, after a brief discussion of recently distributed research documents, would focus on planning stakeholder outreach strategies. Facilitator Dick Withycombe added that the group would review a proposed protocol for the upcoming KingCo focus group and affirm future meeting dates and times.


Committee members had an opportunity to review two additional research documents
between meetings:

  • “School Start Times for Adolescents,” an article from Pediatrics: The Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics (August 2014); and
  • “School Start Time Change: An In­-Depth Examination of School Districts in the United States,” published by The Children’s National Medical Center’s Blueprint for Change Team (April 2014).

Eva invited thoughts and comments about either document, but suggested focusing on the one about school district implementation because the committee had already reviewed multiple articles about adolescent sleep.

  • It was interesting that so many districts reported that the specific concerns they had about athletics didn’t come to fruition, that none of the issues raised had a significant impact. It didn’t say why or how, but they all said athletics weren’t an issue.
  • That was interesting to me too, but overall the article wasn’t balanced with the experiences of schools that had negative or unsuccessful experiences; so it seemed a bit biased.
  • What I noticed, as an overall theme, was the role of the superintendent in making this change: the importance of the superintendent’s involvement in rolling this out and of having a lot of superintendent support and direction.
  • I noted the comments from Arlington County, which made a successful change, about the fear of change and also how that was eventually set aside. As time goes by, people do adjust.


Bellevue Director of Athletics and Activities Jeff Lowell invited the committee’s feedback regarding the protocol he had drafted for his meeting with the KingCo athletic directors.

In the course of this discussion, some generalizable ideas and understandings emerged.

  • Avoid having too many questions.
  • Allow the group’s interest to drive additional questions.
  • Direct people’s attention to both the positive and negative aspects of change (e.g., what would be the advantages and disadvantages…).
  • Put the questions most likely to generate a lot of talk near the end.
  • Don’t ask people up front whether they’re pro or con, because it may solidify their opinion before you have an opportunity to educate them.
  • There’s more than anecdotal information about the impact of sleep on student health, so we need to be effective at educating people.
  • But don’t give people more information than they can digest in one sitting; provide a summary.
  • Jeff’s protocol may be adapted for use with for other groups.
  • Bellevue and Mercer Island are very different in some respects, so they may choose to use different input instruments and approaches.
  • In the end, it’s possible the two districts will arrive at different recommendations.
  • There’s value both in working together and in working in district groups.


The committee worked in separate groups to plan stakeholder outreach activities for their respective districts. Eva provided copies of both district calendars, as well as a worksheet to guide the conversation, which included alternative input methods, sample questions, and a list of potential stakeholders. These outreach activities will take place in March, with teams of committee members gathering input in meetings with stakeholder groups in each district.

In the conversation preceding the district-­group work, the following points were made.

  • There will be two primary audiences: a school audience and a parent/community audience. It makes sense to focus first on the high schools (staff, athletics/activities people, students, principals) because the understandings we gain there will inform our dialogs with the community.
  • Many coaches don’t teach, so it would be best to have a separate coaches meeting at each high school.
  • Starting with face­-to-­face input gathering where possible expresses our care and concern.

After 30 minutes of planning time, the district work groups shared their approaches to gathering input from school stakeholders. The committee will plan outreach strategies for parent and community stakeholders at their next meeting.


The committee agreed to cancel the February 25 meeting, to free committee members for stakeholder activities and to give the superintendent’s designees (Eva and Mercer Island Transportation Director Todd Kelsay) an opportunity to update their school boards prior to the community phase of the outreach strand.

Dick reviewed the remaining meeting calendar:

  • March 18 (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) in Bellevue
  • April 1 (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) in Bellevue
  • April 22 (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) in Bellevue
  • May 6 (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) in Bellevue or Mercer Island
  • June 3 (3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) in Bellevue or Mercer Island

Parking Lot

A Mercer Island parent has suggested changing early­-release Wednesday to late­-start
Wednesday so kids could sleep in; the data show that catchup sleep is helpful to adolescents.

*The comments of committee members appear in italic print, those of the presenters and facilitator in regular print. Unless enclosed in quotation marks, comments have been edited for brevity and clarity.