Roughly 65 new and transferring students at Montezuma-Cortez High School were told to stay home this week as complications with the schools schedule precluded the new students from registering for classes.
Parents of students not previously enrolled in Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 were informed the local high school was not ready to put their students in classes Monday, the first day of school, and they would be called when the counseling office was ready to assign classes to new students.
What we were doing was getting all our current students enrolled and taken care of first, said M-CHS Vice Principal Dave Robinson. We were getting all 650-some-odd students ready then starting on the new student registration.
Robinson said the decision to ask the new students to stay home was a reaction to a similar situation last year when nearly 50 students lined up outside the counseling office on the first day of school waiting for schedules.
It was just chaos, Robinson said. It was not efficient and not organized. That was this years change to try and clean up the process. Until we can get those new kids a schedule, we are not going to just have them sit in the halls. We are going to call them to come in for an appointment time. We basically put a number on top of each registration packet, and we are calling parents one at a time.
The situation was precipitated by complications in creating the high schools master schedule, Robinson said. District officials designing the schedule were not able to create a schedule that was compatible with PowerSchool, the scheduling software used in the district.
The way we were inputting the schedule, PowerSchool was not able to read it, Robinson said. It was really us not knowing how the program worked. So in the last few weeks before school started we were basically starting over.
Robinson said one of the contributing factors to the scheduling snafu was the schools switch to a fluid block schedule, in which some classes are 90 minutes per day for a semester and some are 45 minutes per day for an entire year, and an excessive offering of individual courses.
Classes that are only offered by one teacher during one period the entire year are called singletons. Singletons make scheduling difficult because students are locked into that time frame. Examples are band, athletic conditioning classes and some advance placement courses. This year, M-CHS has more than 40 singleton classes on the master schedule.
Robinson said officials and staff at the school are looking for ways to pare down the number of singletons offered in a given year to make scheduling easier.
We are going to start in with the leadership on which classes are essential to graduation and certain programs, Robinson said. The others will be up for grabs, and maybe we will only offer them every other year. If we can get the singletons down to 20, they will be 10 times easier to schedule.
In the meantime, roughly 9 percent of the M-CHS student body is sitting at home, waiting to be invited back to school. Parents have been told their students will not be penalized for missing the first few days or week of school. To ensure that is the case, many teachers in the high school are using the first week for review, rather than jumping into new material, Robinson said.
We went to the teachers and told them they need to understand they will have kids who are coming into the classroom three days behind and the teachers need to be patient, Robinson said.
Though the situation is impacting the educational aspect of school, it also has an affect on students hoping to participate in fall activities.
Weve had kids come out for sports, and theyve been told just to sit there because they technically arent enrolled, Robinson said.
Re-1 Superintendent Stacy Houser said he is far from happy with the situation
I cant say on the record what my first reaction was when I was told kids were sent home, Houser said. I am not pleased with that a bit. I think everyone is not happy with that; everyone is not satisfied. Everyone is committed to making things go smoother next year.
Robinson said most parents are frustrated with the situation, and he understands the sentiment.
They want their kids in school, Robinson said. We understand that. Nobody is happy. It kind of sucks to look at that kid and say, Hey buddy, just hang tight for a while. I dont think anybody likes it, and everyone hates the fact it had to be put off but somebody had to sacrifice someplace and we had to put the new students and transfers off for a couple days to get the majority done.
New and transfer student enrollment began Tuesday afternoon, and a few students started classes Wednesday. All students are expected to be registered by the end of this week.
Reach Kimberly Benedict at firstname.lastname@example.org.