Mr. O'Toole's Resignation: A Non-Factor in Scheduling Mishap

John Gross Co-Editor-in-Chief As most Latin students are painfully aware, a mishap in the registrar’s office this summer caused class schedules to be released much later than anticipated; and they were not without error. Some students were over-enrolled, some under-enrolled, some put in Hon French: Intermediate Mid having been a Spanish student since fifth grade. “Earlier this year, our administration changed the software we use to create student schedules,” said Interim Director of Studies and Professional Development Mr. Greer on the scheduling problem this summer. Mr. Greer said that “we purchased a costly piece of software that we used for scheduling but nothing else. We thought that we could use Romanet, which also has a scheduling function, however, Whipplehill, the company that owns Romanet, contained a series of critical errors that could not be fixed. After several weeks we had to go back to our old software, Powerschool.” But, it’s not as simple as it sounds; regardless of what some people think, there is a lot that goes into creating schedules for nearly 500 students. “We begin by setting up our student information system,” said upper school registrar Ms. Burke, who works alongside Ms. Rice. “We input all data relevant to creating schedules—teachers, classes, and students. Then, we set student priority based on grade level, with seniors the highest, then juniors and so forth. Then the student course requests are entered, including secondary options.” But sorting the preferences and priorities of hundreds of high schoolers isn’t the trickiest part. “We place constraints into the schedule. For example, Hon American Civilization, must be scheduled at adjacent blocks, and classes like Band and Chorus cannot meet at the same time the equivalent Middle School classes meet.” After the constraints and preferences are sorted, the rest is up to the software, which creates blocks for each class, and automatically maximizes how many students get their first-choice classes. At the same time, it reduces potential issues that might arise surrounding course requests and class blocks. The last step is for the registrars to double-check the schedules and post them on RomanNet. “Note that this is an extremely brief summary of a multifaceted process,” concluded Burke, as if the process wasn’t complicated enough. As one can imagine, going back-and-forth between different, equally complex, scheduling softwares, takes a lot of time and energy, which is why the schedules came out so much later than we’re used to. And while it certainly was an inconvenience for students and teachers alike, it was even more so for Mr. Greer, Ms. Burke, and Ms. Rice, who spent over half of the summer fixing an issue that was completely out of their control. Despite rumors circulating about the untimely resignation of former registrar Mr. O’toole, his absence had nothing to do with the tardiness of class schedules. In fact, he worked closely with the registrars all summer. “His expertise was essential to diagnosing and overcoming the software challenges,” said Burke. “We are very grateful for his excellent work all summer.” Unlike recent issues in the school, this one was in no way political, but solely a technological malfunction.  Most scheduling mistakes have been resolved; however, the registrars are still working to fix any errors that might remain. “We are working to spot issues and fix them. But, with two sets of eyes on 471 schedules, we may overlook something. Please contact us at [email protected] or stop by US203 and we will be happy to work with you on your schedule.”]]>