Pr. George's schools say last year's problems with class schedules are over

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 19, 2010; 4:03 PM

Prince George's County school officials say they are on track for the first day back to class next week, and that there will not be a repetition of last year's problems, which kept thousands of high school students waiting for days with no class schedules.

Parents have been able to access their children's schedules online since Monday, and there have been scattered complaints that some schedules are missing classes, or that there are classes on the schedules that they didn't expect to see. But Prince George's School Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said Thursday that those issues are probably the result of ordinary scheduling conflicts and not computer glitches.

"These are not an inability to produce a child's schedule, and that is different from where we were a year ago, when 8,000 kids did not have a schedule," Hite said. "This is really an issue of trying to resolve selection and choices for students."

The Prince George's school official in charge of high schools, Monica Goldson, said that as of Thursday afternoon, 97 percent of students had schedules, and that the remainder were newly enrolled in the system or had transferred schools since an early August cutoff date. Students who signed up for conflicting classes will have to fix schedules once they are back at school, she said.

The Prince George's Gazette reported Thursday that a number of parents at Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale had discovered incorrect class schedules when they logged in to the school system's online portal this week.

Hite said he expected scheduling conflicts to be more likely at large high schools such as Flowers, Oxon Hill and Eleanor Roosevelt, where there are specialty programs and many classes that have low enrollments and are taught only once a day.

"Quite frankly, in some cases, students will need to make choices," he said.

Last year, many Prince George's high school students returned to class only to discover either that they had no schedules, or that their schedules were radically different from the ones for which they had signed up, the result of glitches in the SchoolMax software used to track student information.

Many students waited for days in cafeterias and auditoriums as administrators struggled to get them into classes. The school system ultimately decided to repair and retain the software.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company