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Tight enrollment creates packed classes, little room for changing schedules

By Megan Martin

At the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, 143 more students enrolled at AHS than previously expected, leaving classes overcrowded and students frustrated. The repercussions have been felt throughout the school as students struggled with switching out of classes and the administration and counselors had a challenging time accommodating students’ wishes.

Every year student services at AUSD gives the administration a projection of the number of students they believe will attend AHS, yet this year the projection was off by a substantial margin.  When they inform the school how many students they project AHS will have, the administration uses a formula to decide how many sections of classes they need to build.  Because of the extra students, principal Robert Ithurburn had to request six more sections to be eventually built into the schedule.

As of now, according to Ithurburn, we are “very tight in freshman English and junior English, chemistry and biology, and in the electives.”  The new sections are needed because if the school gets as many as two new students there will not be enough room for them in regular classes, and “we can’t force kids into EXP’s or AP’s,” Ithurburn said.

The limited amount of spaces available in regular classes has prevented students from dropping out of AP classes and/or switching into other classes they would prefer.  “The biggest impact on students is we are holding firmer to the policy that you can’t drop AP classes,” said Ithurburn.  He also added that he is “glad to be doing that” because he wants students to “really think about” taking AP classes before they sign up.

The counseling department said they are sympathetic to the students’ course change requests and did their best to accommodate as many requests as possible given the limited spaces available in classes this year.  In addition, they hope there will be more sections available next year to allow for more flexibility with students’ choices.

This year freshmen did not have much of a choice of electives because priority is given to the upperclassmen. This has made it hard for students to be placed in Spanish 1 and various art classes.

This new freshman class, at 443 students, is not the largest on campus, with the juniors having 447, yet the halls have seemed unusually crowded compared to other years.  This overcrowded feeling is more due to Kofman, which is closed for construction, and the eight classes it used to hold being closed down, putting 250 more kids in the halls during passing period.  AHS could technically hold 2,000 students, but it would be even tighter than it is now. The enrollment this year is 1,749 students.

As a result of Kofman closing, 20 teachers are currently sharing a classroom.  This is not an insurmountable problem because most teachers have a department office they can go to during their preparation time when they are not teaching.  However, some department offices “aren’t really conducive or set up for that,” said Ithurburn.

The six new sections that have been approved and will be built into the schedule are still in the infant stage and have not been discussed to great length yet. Ithurburn said he will work with the counselors to decide which classes are necessary to add.  The part-time teachers here could be options for teaching those sections, depending on what subject the sections will be in.  “If we have to add an English section, then we have to go out and hire part-time teachers,” said Ithurburn.

As of late October, Ithurburn said that the number of students at our school has largely stabilized out and have decreased by around 40 students from the 143 in the beginning of the school year.  The new sections that have been approved will most likely be implemented when second semester starts, and they will be semester-long classes that students can pair with Current Life.  

While the numbers are still not solidified yet, not all six sections are going to be needed, and it looks as if only one or two new semester classes will need to be introduced to accommodate students.

This is the largest year Ithurburn has seen since he has worked at AHS, and he does not know if this is a “bubble year” or if the classes will be increasing in size each year.  

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