Small 3rd hours result from schedule conflicts

Maegan Kabel, Photo editor

With budget cuts a prominent issue for the school year, students were told to expect larger class sizes than previous years.
First hour, 30 students.
Second hour, 28 students.
Third hour, 13 students?
“We have had hours be problematic before,” counselor Sandy Fryer said. “We can’t predict it, we can’t figure it out. Sometimes it’s problematic in that they’re too full. This year, they’re too small.”
There are many pieces that must fit together to create the master schedule.
“We noticed that issue back in the spring,” said Brett Potts, Assistant Principal of Curriculum and Instruction. “There’s so many variables, there’s always an hour with a glitch. We sit down and start tweaking [the schedules] to plug back into the system and see where the kids fall.”
Singletons, classes that are only offered one period, are just one of the causes for the smaller third hour.
“Every kid we tried moving into third hour wouldn’t work,” Fryer said. “There would be a roadblock. When you have larger classes but, with Southwest opening, so fewer sections, it’s harder because there’s less flexibility.”
Potts said he tried moving pieces around, but he had to be cautious.
“We couldn’t move it too much without messing everything up,” he said. “[The glitch] is more noticeable because of the situation staff-wise. We have a smaller staff, so the situation is amplified.”
During the school day, teachers are either in a plan period, on supervision or in class.
“We have very few teachers on plan or supervision for third hour,” Potts said. “It’s been difficult doing supervision due to smaller staff numbers and part-time teachers.”
Social studies teacher Mark Klopfenstein’s third hour section of AP US History has only 12 students.
“My first thought was pretty much resignation,” he said. “I know counselors aren’t happy with 28 students to 12 students back-to-back. I will voice my concern but recognize that there probably isn’t anything that can be done.”
Klopfenstein said the biggest difficulty with the varying class size will be class activities, but he also sees an upside.
“When I have 12 people in third hour, in theory at least, they get one-twelfth of my attention, whether that’s working one-on-one or more focus with less background noise,” he said. “With 28 people, there may be less focus.”
Junior Allen Zhu, one of Klopfenstein’s 12 third hour students, said he feels the smaller class size creates a more comfortable environment for discussion.
“I actually think it makes it better because the teacher doesn’t have to be concerned with so many students,” Zhu said. “It’s easier to develop student-teacher relationships.”