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Parents question registration process

Some families upset about scheduling conflicts were on hand during the Monday evening Oak Harbor School Board meeting to voice their concerns.

While families were upset about long lines, waiting in the cold and computer glitches as students sign up for next year’s classes this spring, some also criticized the school’s master schedule.

Several advanced level courses were scheduled during the same class period which limited options for some students. Parents attending the board meeting believe the scheduling problems stem from the expansion of the Island Program to include the sophomore class next year.

“I believe the creation of the sophomore islands has compromised the integrity of the junior and senior class schedules,” parent Cheryl Gordon said.

The Islands Program groups students into separate “islands” to take the same three core classes together. Teachers are also grouped together and share a common planning period where they meet to better discuss student needs.

School officials hope expanding the islands will make a smaller community for students, help reduce the failure rate and result in more students passing the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, which is a graduation requirement for this year’s freshman class.

Parent Lynn Vagt echoed Gordon’s comments.

“The advent of sophomore island seems to be at the heart of the scheduling problems,” Vagt said. She said the schedule has forced students to choose between advanced music classes and such advanced placement classes as literature and history.

Oak Harbor High School student Henry Vasquez said he was disappointed with the schedule and said the school shouldn’t compromise the choices of juniors and seniors.

“We want to reach our potential,” Vasquez said.

Vagt added that, while she is sympathetic regarding the burden the WASL places on schools, the school district shouldn’t compromise the academic experience of advanced students to satisfy the demands of the WASL.

Officials are working to resolve student scheduling conflicts.

Nicole MacTavish, assistant principal at Oak Harbor High School, said scheduling problems occur every year. By having students register in the early spring, there are several months to work through schedule conflicts.

While the Islands Program does tie up a teacher’s schedule for several hours throughout the school day, MacTavish said staff works to spread the advanced placement classes through every period of the day.

“We really work hard to scatter them throughout the day,” MacTavish said in a Tuesday interview.

Between two and five AP classes are offered each period throughout the six-period day.

MacTavish knew of the concern about the literature, history and music classes that are all scheduled for third period. She said there were enough students to open additional AP classes in U.S. history, language and composition and literature. Students are meeting with counselors to have their schedules adjusted. She said there should be at least 15 students committed to attending an AP course before opening another class.

The high school offered two AP history classes in the past. However, past numbers attendance dictated that one class should be offered. MacTavish said it looks like the school will have to increase it to two classes next year.

She said giving scheduling priority to juniors and seniors is a myth because, with the exception of incoming freshmen, student schedules were decided at the same time. In the past, registration bubble sheets were always fed into a computer which decided each student’s class schedule.

However, with the registration during the recent teacher conferences, students selected their classes on a first-come, first-served basis.

During the registration process, families encountered computer glitches and long lines that caused some to have to wait out in the cold.

Principal Dwight Lundstrom apologized for the long lines and glitches but said those problems can be solved.

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