Scheduling Struggles

Scheduling conflict forces students to choose between two honors courses


C. Tedrow

Sophomore meets with counselor to schedule for next school year.

Jack Forrest, Website Editor

With the spring semester comes scheduling for juniors –-choosing what final courses they would like to take before pursuing their future outside of high school. However, Spanish teacher Kristi Fleck has noticed a steep dropoff in students continuing on the foreign language track.

“This year I have 11 students in AP Spanish, one of which is an exchange student from Spain,” Fleck said. “Last year, I stamped 19 schedules for Spanish IV or IV Honors students who wanted to move on. Of those 19, only 10 were able to fit it into their schedules.”

It is unavoidable for some courses to conflict with AP Spanish, causing the student to have to make a decision. For example, Ceramics, AP Chemistry and certain music courses share period seven with it. However, these courses all have multiple periods. The main source of the low numbers for AP Spanish is instead a commonly-taken course for honors students: Biomedical Innovation. Both Biomed and AP Spanish only offer one period for seniors. 

“As far as I know, this has been an issue for years,” Fleck said. “I’ve seen it these two years that I’ve been teaching the course, but I know Mr. Gaff, the previous AP Spanish teacher, also had this problem for a long time and tried to get it resolved.”

It is also a well known problem for students.

“We found out the other day that there are about seven or eight of us that are in this situation just for Spanish,” junior Caden York, who plans to take both courses next year, said. “I have been in both Spanish and Biomed since my freshman year. The goal of taking these courses this whole time was to get to these final classes that I wanted to take my senior year. To not be able to take one of them would really be a shame that I spent so much time on these courses throughout my high school career.”

For students wishing to take both Biomed and AP Spanish, there is a clear advantage to learning a new language before pursuing a medical career. 

“I would love to continue my career in the medical field and knowing a different language in these types of jobs can provide a huge advantage,” York said. “I found out about this conflict through my older brother who is a sophomore at IU. He is a prime example of what these courses mean to us. He is currently majoring in Biology and minoring in Spanish. It is not an uncommon thing to see these two subjects be taken together.”

However, when forced to choose, York, like most of his peers, would choose a class that is essential for the future he wants. 

“If I had to pick one, I would unfortunately have to pick Biomed,” York said. “I love Spanish class so much and have had such a great time this year with Ms. Fleck, but in the end, I want a career in the medical field and this Biomed class is what will get me there.”

Students have been in contact with Fleck, the administration and Biomedical Innovations teacher Andrea Teevan in efforts to resolve this issue. 

“Kids told me about the conflict and I brought it up with our admin,” Teevan said. “The schedule is not locked for next year. I think kids just assume that but student interest drives the schedule.”

A shifting schedule is nothing new for Fleck, who would be willing to change the class period for more students to take it.

“I’m unaware if there’s anything stopping the class period AP Spanish is offered from being moved around in my schedule,” Fleck said. “Since starting at CG, my schedule has changed slightly each year, so it seems that the levels I teach could potentially be shuffled.”

So, will this be a problem next year? The issue arises when dealing with the master schedule that determines which classes happen during each period. Factors like how many students request a course and what courses teachers are licensed to teach drive period placement.

“The Master Grid also incorporates teachers’ duty and prep time that adds a layer of when certain classes can be offered,” counselor Meaghan Krukemeier said. “We also have staff members that are shared between buildings, which ‘lock’ courses into certain periods of the day, making it impossible to move.”

While Biomed is not locked into period seven, it has traditionally been scheduled during that period because it is most convenient for the course.

“Our class was originally placed seventh because in the past we had very little conflict and secondly, because in the hospital setting all the action was taking place in the morning,” Teevan said. “When internships were placed at the end of the day, kids could not see much because doctors were either charting or on lunch. The seventh period slot also enabled us to place study hall on either side of [period seven] giving kids more options in their schedule since they need to be scheduled back to back.”

Unless there is a change for the 2022-23 school year, students will once again have to make a decision.

“If a student requests courses that are ‘in conflict’ many times a decision has to be made between them. However, if we have a class conflict where a large percentage of students won’t schedule in, we look to make a scheduling change in the Master Schedule,” Krukemeier said. “Our recommendation is that if this happens to you, you talk to your school counselor about other courses that may be similar or fulfill that same requirement you are trying to achieve.”

Fleck knows this decision could be detrimental to students interested in pursuing Spanish beyond high school.

“With language, it’s very much a ‘use it or lose it’ type of skill. Taking a year away from using Spanish could set students back if they decide later that they want to get a minor or major in the language. It’s disappointing to see that interest and motivation in a student and then the let down when they can’t make it work,” Fleck said. “I would love to be able to build the program and continue to get more students interested in the upper-level courses, but that goal is made much more difficult by these scheduling conflicts; if a solution isn’t found, I see this as being a recurring issue for all future students who may be interested in taking the course.”