Durango High School has been beset this week by scheduling problems caused in part by a new software system.
Students were not able to pick up their class schedules until Monday, the first day of school. In past years, schedules have been mailed to students during summer break.
The problems have caused parents heartburn. Joe Gemperline, whose son is a junior at DHS, met with Lashinsky and Superintendent Keith Owen on Tuesday to discuss the problems.
"It appears to be a perfect storm," Gemperline said. "Everybody knew it was going to be a fiasco, except for, obviously, the school."
Gemperline's son was placed in Spanish 3 rather than theater. He needs theater classes to participate in school plays, Gemperline said.
"He's still sitting in the wrong classes," Gemperline said late this week. "He's just missing assignments and missing homework right now."
Durango School District 9-R switched to a new SMS software system during summer break. The system tracks students' schedules, grades and attendance. The overhaul delayed work on students' class schedules.
"More than anything, that's what delayed our scheduling getting out to kids," DHS Principal Diane Lashinsky said Friday. "We couldn't even work on schedules until August, because the SMS transition happened in July."
Delays caused by the late schedules have been exacerbated by full classes. DHS cut the equivalent of about 10 full-time jobs in the spring in anticipation of reduced enrollment. The result has been fewer class sections for students, meaning fewer scheduling options.
Some students were placed in classes for which they had not taken prerequisite courses, Lash-insky said. Others had holes in their schedules.
Parent Renee Helms said her daughter, a senior, cannot get into a career class she needs to graduate.
"The classes are overcrowded," Helms said. "There's not enough seats."
Helms said teachers and staff have been helpful, but the bureaucracy has been difficult to navigate. Her daughter was placed as an office assistant, and there is some question if that activity can count toward career credit.
Lashinsky said the scheduling problems are easing as school counselors work with individual students to get them into the proper classes.
"I think generally we're doing pretty well," she said. "We're down to probably not too many kids left to see."
The school's counselors have been working long hours and consulting with the students who need to switch classes, Lashinsky said. "The counselors have been amazing," she said.
DHS's counseling staff was cut from five to four during the spring reorganization.
Lashinsky said counselors will work to have each student's year-long schedule finished by the end of next week.
The district projected enrollment would drop this year because of demographic trends and the opening of a new charter school, Animas High School. DHS enrolled 1,512 students last fall. The district projected DHS would have 1,301 students this year. The annual enrollment count will be conducted in October.
Students interviewed during lunch break Thursday said most of their scheduling problems were minor and were being worked out.
"They're just taking forever," said Skilah McKinney, a freshman.
Matthew Gonzales, a sophomore, got all the core classes he needed, but not some electives he wanted, like weight training and guitar I.
Helms traced the difficulties to layoffs in the spring.
"Now they've let too many teachers go, and the classes are just overflowing," she said.