There are only two female students in a freshmen Algebra class, in a junior Spanish class there are only six students in all, and in fifth period Aviation and American Character there aren’t even enough seats to go around.
At Aviation High School the master schedule has been built the same way every year, however, the students have become confused as Aviation has changed the way it creates its master schedule and assigns each student to their classes.
As the mix of class sizes causes distress for students, most complaints involve the number of students in each classroom, but students underestimate how difficult scheduling is.
The job of doing the master scheduling, putting individual students in each class, and most importantly making sure that each student gets into the courses they need to graduate and get into the college of their choice is performed by the school counselor, Katie Carper.
However, scheduling should not be a school counselor’s main concern. Putting each individual student into their class is the time consuming task done by the registrar, but because there is a new person filling the job this year, Kim Sorensen, Carper had to help out. New office manager Pam Suiaunoa also helped with this task. Carper usually checks the master schedule, making sure that each student is in a course that will help them reach the requirements needed to get into a college.
“With a small school like ours,” explains school counselor Katie Carper, “our master schedule fits together like a puzzle.”
One common wrench in the works of master scheduling is Running Start.
“Running start is not encouraged,” explains Carper, “because we think we have a pretty good program here. You sign up to go to the school, you apply to go to the school, this is a school of choice.”
Students consider the running start program an option because it provides a two year paid tuition to community colleges or universities participating in the program. If the course is passed successfully, it earns credits for both high school and college. It is a money saving option for students who are struggling to meet the college tuition rate. But Running Start requires the upperclassmen to be out of school, lowering the total number of enrolled students.
The small student body at Aviation High School makes for a small schedule, limiting the classes and curriculum ideas that the school has to offer. Scheduling is also impacted by kids’ needs, number of teachers and their certifications, how their schedules correspond, and how all the classes fit into the aviation theme. Many aspects affect the difficulty of dividing four hundred students into the limited number of classrooms.
With a small school like Aviation, the funding limits the number of teachers the school can offer. The state requires certain conditions for the teachers. Each teacher can only teach what they are certified to teach, educating only in the subjects that they are supposed to. They are also required to have one planning period. In addition, only thirty students are allowed in each of their classes, and a teacher is supposed to see no more than 145 students a day.
Aviation is too small of a school, with its low number of students and teachers, to offer six periods of all the classes needed throughout the day. It can only offer a few periods of each class. The problem is that the office has to fit in the allotted number of students, thirty kids per classroom out of a total of one hundred fifteen students, into the certain number of classes that it can schedule.
In some district high schools, they have three times as many teachers than they do at Aviation. Hence, they can provide core classes in any of the periods of the day, not forcing them to be the first four periods, which is also a school requirement. With the four core classes required to be in the morning for the freshmen and sophomores, it was easy to divide the students evenly. The upperclassmen have more freedom in their classes, and their core classes are spread throughout the day rather than being the first four periods. In the past, the scheduling has been done to accommodate one hundred students per grade, meaning there would be twenty five students in each core class. However, this year, with almost one hundred fifteen freshman students, the classroom number seems larger because the excess amount of students is not large enough to create another class.
Other than teacher requirements and limited teachers, additional aspects affect scheduling of the number of students per classroom. Class sizes seem imbalanced due to the lack of knowledge that the office has of an incoming student’s past school curriculum.
“We have students from all over the place,” according to Carper, “we don’t necessarily know what classes they’ve taken.”
For example, this year there are more ninth graders needing Algebra 2 rather than Geometry, which requires a different schedule from previous years.
An obstacle created for the Aviation office, other than student curriculum or small student body, is the large ratio of boys compared to girls. When scheduling classes, the office tries to even out the number of each gender in the classroom. In spite of that, there is a freshman Algebra class where there are only two girls.
“It’s scary and awkward,” says Aviation freshman, Allison Dela Cruz, about her math class, “you get used to it after a while.”