School community faces various scheduling challenges


An example of the weekly schedule is displayed. Scheduling issues are common at the beginning of the year.

Chloe Jepsen, Features News Editor

New pencils, a clean room, a new outfit: These are just some of the many reminders that the sunny summer days are coming to an end and early mornings and classes are about to begin.

But a broken schedule can pose a rocky start to a new year. Many different variables, including class choices and class sizes affect the process of obtaining your desired schedule.

Guidance counselor Eric Schiff said that the scheduling proc
ess begins by carefully choosing classes early in the year; this happens before the schedules are released to students and their families.

“The whole process starts in February after midterms when teachers meet with students to recommend the next course,” Schiff said. “Those recommendations are entered into X2 and in a short time parents are then permitted to see those recommendations. Then there is a conversation with guidance and in some cases they override them to get into a higher level class or a lower level class.”

Junior Lena Harris has had an imperfect schedule every year. She has gone to arena day to alleviate the issues, but it has not always been a smooth process. When Harris was a sophomore, she had to wait a month into the school year to switch into a different chemistry class.

“I thought they were both great teachers but their style was so different. They were both helpful about it, but it was also doing sports and other things and learning how to learn things on my own.”

According to Schiff, the number of students who sign up for a given class are never clear cut.

“For the most part, the schedule is run with those numbers as hard guidelines in terms of how many sections,” Schiff said. “The thing is, it never fits easily. It’s never 100 kids looking to fill 100 spots.”

Schiff said that because there is such a variety of classes offered to seniors this poses many scheduling issues. The budget also contributes to increasing class numbers.

“It’s 103 kids, or 94 kids so you either have to run really big sections or four sections with space, and because of the budget situation more recently, it’s always three big sections. It happens all across the school, but it’s mostly seniors,” Schiff said.

Associate Dean Melanee Alexander compared the scheduling process to a game of tetris, with teachers and administrators trying to make all the pieces fit. Arena Day allows them to complete this task in a more timely manner.

“The theory is that to have everybody come in a three or four hour period, including the department heads, in the same room, makes it so that everybody wins the tetris game,” Alexander said.

Alexander said that another factor that creates problems is that student’s class choices often change from the time of recommendations to when schedules are released.

“Recommendations come out in January, maybe February, but it’s only half of the year,” Alexander said. “What if you find your love for English in the spring and want to take a harder class? I think that part is inevitable.”

According to Alexander, the system also limits students who have dedicated class blocks, such as the African American and Latino Scholars Program.

“It adversely affects some special populations,” Alexander said. “We have kids who are in the African American and Latino Scholars program who have to schedule around the scholars class which limits the universe of classes that they can get into.”

Junior Karina Lorenzo is part of AALSP which meets every A block for juniors.

“In some classes like mine, the scholars program overlaps with other blocks,” Lorenzo said. “For example, my social justice block overlapped with my scholars block. I was going to take AP chemistry, but it also overlapped with scholars, so I had to go to arena day in order to change it. One of the reasons why I didn’t take AP chemistry is because it would have moved around my whole schedule.”

Schiff said that the scheduling process cannot continue as it is for much longer.

“So, are we offering too many classes? Yes. Are we offering too many classes for the number of kids? Yes. So those two things can’t simultaneously exist for much longer,” Schiff said. “We need to have a schoolwide, community wide conversation about what drives the schedule, what should be driving kids and parents decision making about scheduling.”