PowerSchool power flop?Student scheduling data reported lost
Washington School board members listened to Washington Middle School principal Curt Mayer and Washington Middle School dean of students’ Aaron Six about how the kinks were being worked out with PowerSchool for the remained of this school year on Wednesday evening.
This was the first year the middle school started to use PowerSchool to build schedules for the students. According to Mayer there was some data lost and they had to go and redo the schedules by hand.
“I apologize for our scheduling issues,” Mayer said. “Grant Wood was consulted and there was no way to recover that information lost.”
The school board had become aware of the issues with the schedule back in first term, Superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen said. There were meetings with Mayer and Six about the issues from the scheduling in first and second term. After it reappeared at the beginning of the third term, the board wanted to know why.
“What they attempted to do with the schedule was new,” Jorgensen said. “There were a number of things that needed to be implemented into the schedule.”
For example, instead of doing math by grade level the middle school went to doing math by ability. The students took an exam in the previous year to gauge where their level was. Science was another scheduling issue.
“There are 153 kids in sixth grade currently,” Six said. “You have one science teacher, which would mean 30 kids per class and all year long.”
The 2012-13 school year was the first year the middle school went to grades six through eight. Both the sixth and seventh-grade classes are over 150 students. PowerSchool didn’t see the class size as an issue.
Also, the middle school is on a 13-period schedule during the day. PowerSchool didn’t match up with the bell schedule or the teachers’ availability.
“It’s like a big Soduku puzzle,” Six said. “You have to balance with the teachers’ schedules and what’s required by the state.”
To combat the issues with the scheduling Mayer and Six have a plan of action put together. This year the middle school is understaffed which didn’t help. Sometimes students were enrolled in periods when a teacher wasn’t available or the class size became overcrowded. However, steps have been made to help next year.
“We are going to make some staff changes next year,” Mayer said. “We will have a reading teacher there 75 percent of the time and a full-time guidance counselor.”
To prevent this from happening at the beginning of fourth term Mayer and Six have already begun on the student’s schedules.
“For the fourth term we don’t think we’re going to sacrifice anything,” Mayer said. “There’s a lot of work to it and we have a long way to go.”
Also, discussed at Wednesday’s meeting was the transportation sharing agreement with WACO Community School District.
“This has already been approved by the WACO board,” Jorgensen said. “I encourage everyone to vote for it.”
Everyone who was present at the meeting voted unanimously for the agreement. Heidi Vittetoe and Troy Suchan weren’t present to vote.
According to the transportation agreement, Washington Community School District would provide the employment of the bus drivers to drive regular routes for WACO Community School District (WACO). WACO would make payments to WCSD to reimburse Washington for 100 percent of the actual costs for all salary and benefits paid by WCSD for drivers serving WACO and 20 percent of the salary and benefits costs of the Washington Transportation Coordinator. This will begin in 2013 and will be in place for three years.