Principal Don Montoya
Logan Principal Don Montoya apologized to the school staff Monday for what many describe as the worst opening of school in memory.
At the school-wide staff meeting, held in the Little Theater after school, Montoya took the blame for the "Perfect Storm" of problems that have plagued teachers and students since August 29, the first day of school, even as he acknowledged that some of the problems are still ongoing.
"We had a rough start of this year, particularly with the master schedule" of classes, he told the approximately 200 teachers and classified employees gathered for the meeting, which was scheduled especially for the purpose of addressing the problems and the administration's role in creating and maintaining them. He went on to recite a list of problems, such as broken copying equipment, tardily purchased and obtained supplies, and more.
"The list goes on and on and on," he said, "It was a perfect storm." Behind him, a video projector beamed a picture of the popular movie, "The Perfect Storm."
"I'm sorry that those things happened," Montoya said, " I commit to you that it won't happen again."
He thanks the staff for perservering through the troubled times. ""Thank you. You've worked above and beyond the call of duty," he said.
By holding the meeting and making the apology, Montoya said he hoped to get the healing process started so that the school can "continue to do work that needs to be done."
An informal survey of teachers done by The Courier early in the school year showed that teachers were dismayed at the situation.
The school's opening weeks were "the worst I've seen in my teaching career," teacher Steven Henderson told The Courier.
"It's the worst I've ever seen, and I've been here forever," said teacher Dean Cozine.
"The scheduling this semester was a mess. It is our responsibility as adults to be ready and it is the administration's responsibility to show that we are prepared and read to go when the students get here," said teacher Erin McShane.
Students, too, were not amused. "It was ridiculous how people didn't get the right schedules they signed up for," said student Joji Fujikawa, a senior. 'I personally had to change my whole schedule. They really messed up this year."
The master schedule mess resulted in hundreds of students being placed in the wrong classes, some classes being stuffed with more students than desks, and some classes being scheduled with too few students.
"The did a horrible job with the schedule hand-outs this year and next year they should be more prepared," said Keli McHugh, a junior.
"I've just been shuffled out of a class that I wanted to stay in," said Jessica Yang, "All of the work that I've done for that class is a waste now, and I hope I don't have a hard time catching up. It's my senior year and I didn't want to deal with a problem like this."
"When I first got my schedule, I ended up having two lunches for about a week, then there was a whole lot of confusion when I finally got it changed," said junior Shawn Campbell.
"I already have overcrowded classrooms," said veteran teacher James Hansen, "This is detrimental to learning."
"By the second week, I had at least 40 students in my class and not enough seats," said Language Arts teacher Trish Tripepi.
"It's a disgrace," said teacher Shawn Dolgin. "In business, those responsible would be fired on the spot."
"It's ridiculous that these schedule problems have occurred," said math teacher Randall Baumback. "My sympathy goes out to the students who've had a rough start."
Some teachers were more accepting of the situation.
"It's something we have to learn to accept. There are 4,200 students and 250 teachers. Things aren't always going to go smoothly," said teacher Michael Lockwood.
At the faculty meeting, Montoya said that the 20-year-old computerized student information system the school uses, combined with the lack of experience with the system on the part of the master scheduler, plus the institution of "Freshman Families", lead to the master schedule meltdown.
"I don't mean those as excuses," he said. "They're realities."
Some freshman English classes still need to be adjusted, " he said.
The district, he said, is in the process of choosing a new system that should ease the process of scheduling classes and placing students in them appropriately.
With the new system, "the master schedule will be put together and done by next June," Montoya pledged. He said that, by June, teachers would know what classes they would be teaching when school starts up again for the 2008-2009 school year. Whether students would know their schedules by June is not yet known, he said.
Despite the rocky start to the year, Montoya said his job is safe. Seeking to dispel rumors regarding his job status, Montoya said that Superintendent Pat Jaurequi had assured him the job he's held for more than a decade is his until he retires. He said he tentatively plans to retire in about 20 months, in 2009.