Teacher loss affects students’ schedules

Sophie Kluge and Chloe Geary

C. M. Russell High School is home to more than 1,400 students. With a school this big, it takes a lot of teachers to instruct the kids inside. Due to last year’s budget cuts, the school experienced a total loss of 7.5 full-time teaching positions. That has impacted the school in many ways, including an increase in class size, decrease in available elective classes, and more scheduling issues for the counseling department.
A new face to CMR, Ashley Koch, is the scheduling clerk in the counseling department. She began her job in May.
“Some of the classes have definitely seen changes due to the loss of teachers we experienced last year. The ones that I’ve noticed a particular amount of change are the fine arts departments. Art Workshop 1-2, Culinary Arts, those are the types of classes that are more likely to be at capacity,” she said.
When a class is “at capacity,” it means that it most likely has 30 students in it. The capacity rates change in some business classes, where capacity is 24, or some shop classes, which can have only 18 students at a time.
“The counselors keep on top of everything surrounding individual scheduling issues. They really help with making sure students have all the classes that they need. The counselors are great at what they do,” Koch said.
Counseling Department Leader Brenda Lowry has also seen an impact in the school with the loss of teachers.
“As a counseling department, I think that everyone has noticed a change in the availability of classes. The options for class changes is less than we, as a school, have become accustomed to,” Lowry said.
Even though class size has increased, Lowry says that the ability for students to graduate on time has not been affected.
“We are still able to get students the classes they need for graduation. We have not experienced scenarios where kids are unable to graduate on time due to improper scheduling,” Lowry said.
The main thing that she l has noticed is having many more classes at capacity.
“This year, we have no more art workshop seats, a lot of financial tech classes are full. Nearly every senior English class in the morning is full. There are more classes of 30 kids than I think we ever had, which will obviously impact the instruction and the learning environment,” Lowry said.
Not only is it difficult to get into classes because they’re full, it’s also been a challenge to schedule students into all the classes they’re interested in.
“There are more classes we are only able to offer during a singular period. This causes students to have to choose one class over another. That really limits their ability to experience all the classes and subjects that they were hoping to,” Lowry said.
Single period classes are becoming a problem for students, as well. Senior Natalie Carr knows what it feels like to have to choose between classes in her schedule.
“I’ve had a few problems with scheduling. Two extracurriculars offered one period a day, during the same period. I understand that’s just the way the system works, though. And I’ve had to come in every year during the day in the summer to change my schedule,” Carr said.
Carr also resorted to taking Financial Tech online because of scheduling issues.
“I’ve been trying to get into financial tech since sophomore year. Because I didn’t get put in sophomore or junior year I decided to just take the class online. That wasn’t the best. I had to pay for it, and I had to work around deadlines. But it was better than being stuck in a class of juniors and sophomores for a whole semester,” she said.
Overall the scheduling for this year has been more difficult than the school is used to due to the loss of teachers.
“There has been an impact. However, everybody banded together to help out, to make schedules and classes continue at a high quality,” Koch said.