Looking Back at Chamblee’s 2019 Schedule Fiasco

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Looking Back at Chamblee’s 2019 Schedule Fiasco

The hallways of CCHS.

The hallways of CCHS.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

The hallways of CCHS.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

Photo by Ashley Veazey.

The hallways of CCHS.

Henry Diep, Staff Writer

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As a new school year begins, the scheduling debacle of Chamblee Charter High School rears its problematic head once again. Chamblee students know all too well the nuisance of incorrect schedules and late August class swaps, a seemingly annual tradition for the school. So why does Chamblee experience so many issues with schedules each year and how are students and teachers being affected?

One potential reason for the apparent scheduling issues is that the schedule creation process is almost entirely up to the counseling department alone. This means that a handful of five counselors are responsible for creating 2,000 different schedules to meet the specific demands of each student, as well as responding to class change requests.

“I’m wondering if there are ways to find opportunities to let other people in the building take on parts of the scheduling ‘monster,’” said ninth-grade team leader and English teacher Laura Lennard. “That [would] then make it so that the counseling department can focus on just one small slice of [scheduling] so that they’re not just completely overwhelmed with everything.”

The dissolution of classes can also create difficulties and issues with schedules. Non-core classes dissolve when the amount of students enrolled in the class does not meet the minimum amount of students required by the county. One of the reasons this occurs is because students change their minds about the courses that they wish to take after schedules are created.

“I am told that a [elective] class must have at least 16 students enrolled in it in order to be funded. So without the funding, the school can’t pay for the class so the class would be dissolved,” said language arts teacher Fred Avett.

This greatly affects students formerly enrolled in dissolved classes, as they end up having to find a less ideal replacement class that can potentially move around their entire schedule.

“Once AP Art History was dissolved, they put me in Intro to Team Sports sixth period, which I didn’t sign up for,” said junior Olivia Roberts. “So I put in all sorts of schedule changes and then my mom contacted Ms. Claudman and I got it changed to Photo 1, even though I didn’t sign up for that, [but] I didn’t have any better options.”

However, workarounds have been made for core classes with less than 16 students enrolled. For example, only three students were enrolled in Multivariable Calculus, but the high-level course was able to co-exist with a pre-existing AP Calculus AB class in a shared classroom and class period.

“So what happened was there wasn’t originally a Multivariable class because there were three AB classes that Mrs. Tulchinsky had, and there wasn’t a space for multivariable, so what we ended up doing is creating a class that was double coded with an AB class,” said junior Catherine Cossaboom, who is one of the three students taking Multivariable Calculus. “[But] I had to move two different classes to different teachers, so it was a little difficult because I had a lot of makeup work for those two classes.”

During the schedule creation process, priority is placed on making sure students meet the requirements to graduate and other technicality issues, which is part of the reason why class change requests may take longer.

“Our main responsibility is to make sure students are on track to graduate. There are also other things to think about such as making sure students don’t take classes they either already passed or don’t have the prerequisites for,” said counselor Anna Holloman. “When students need to retake either part A or B of a class they did not pass, it makes it difficult to make their schedule work with the classes they need.”

Dissolved classes also affect teachers, as they must adjust their teaching schedules accordingly to make up for the lost class period. This can include having to teach a new course altogether and having to create new lesson plans for a class they did not plan on teaching.

“So what happened with my schedule this year is that we thought that I would be teaching one grade level when I came in and then I took on a leadership position for the ninth grade team, and so then a lot of my schedule was flip-flopped to try and give me more ninth-graders to allow that position to make sense,” said Lennard, “But then that involved a lot of having to change what level I was teaching, what class, and all of that.”

Meanwhile, with students constantly moving in and out of classes for the first month or so of school as they try to get their schedules settled, teachers must accommodate for this so that students are not left behind on work.

“I think that part of the reality is that it might not be that way at other schools but we know it’s this way at Chamblee and so as a teacher, if you are prepared that that is going to be the potential reality that you live in, then planning accordingly can really help eliminate a lot of that stress,” said Lennard. “I purposely plan activities [like] short stories so that a kid can pick up at the next story, so they don’t have to be behind multiple days, and that just helps everybody feel better when their schedule is getting dropped.”

So what can students do to reduce their chances of getting wrapped up in schedule issues next year?

Counselor Holloman urges students to start thinking about the classes that they want to take next year before they request their courses and to talk with their counselors if they have questions. This way, they will be less likely to fill out a class change form due to indecision and the amount of forms filled out during the new school year is minimized.

“During the spring after class advisement, usually in March, we open our office for advisement appointments so students and their parents can meet with their counseling to discuss their course requests for the next year,” said Holloman.