Ongoing student schedule changes complicate first weeks of semester

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Pioneer High School continues to be the most popular high school in Ann Arbor with approximately 2,000 students. With this amount of students, a lot has to be done for scheduling according to Counselor Sara Vance and Principal Jason Skiba. But, it’s not only the number of students that complicates scheduling; it’s also students not being able to commit to the classes they chose the previous spring. 

Senior Ashanti Turman said this year of scheduling has been “personally absolutely terrible” for her. Turman also said, “the paper that I had gotten at registration was completely different then my actual schedule, the paper showed me taking five hours but when I got to school I was confused as to where I was supposed to go because I ended up have six hours and was confused because when I looked at the paper it was only five.”

Sophomore Mia Neal agrees with Turman. “I was angry because there were just so many problems,” she said. Last spring, Neal requested an online physical education credit, but this semester she was given an on-campus physical education class. The on-campus class meant the sophomore’s entire schedule had to be changed around to complete graduation requirements. For Turman, duplicate credits were added to her schedule, so was “taking the same class that [she] had already passed, and… missing an elective class that [she] needed in order to graduate.”

Skiba attributes these scheduling problems to a higher number of students enrolling this year compared to previous years, noting that this year some enrollments were closed. “This is the first year where Central Office controlled school of choice and in-district transfers to Pioneer, so not as many people were allowed to school of choice here. The second and third window aren’t even open.” he said.

 Vance said the underclasses are large compared to previous years.  “These are the largest freshman classes we’ve ever had come through Pioneer,” she said. If class sizes continue to increase, the school will begin to check students grades and be more particular of the students they approve for school of choice, Vance added. 

Vance believes that if more counseling staff was available it would allow schedules to be made more smoothly. She also suggests more teaching staff. “Hire more teaching staff so that we can lower our class sizes,” she said. The counselor, who has been at Pioneer for 19 years, knows that all students’ schedules are important but the more urgent ones the first weeks of school were new enrollees, those with missing classes, and those being double booked.

For students, choosing classes carefully the year before and understanding what credits they need is important to smooth out the scheduling process. Communication is a big part as well, because schedules are made in spring with counselors and students. Once approved by counselors, administration is sent the schedules to be revised as needed for balanced classes. This may be where the problems arise, some say. Counselors are hoping students and their families will be patient with them, “It’s not helpful if you are requesting a change that your parent sends a voicemail, and you follow up with an email, it should just be one,” Vance said.

She said the current system for requesting a schedule change is through paper slips that are left for counselors to look over. “The counselors are doing the best they can, there are only so many of them and so many of us so everybody needs to calm down,” said Turman, reminding her fellow students to be kind.