Published April 6, 2023
BY AINSLEY HENDERSON
Following the dismissal of former principal Jon Lyons, Carmel High School’s master schedule will be pieced together in a collaborative effort between the district office, CHS department heads and the high school’s administration.
“I don’t know how much our previous principals worked with the district office,” assistant principal Craig Tuana says, “but this year we will definitely be working with them to troubleshoot things.”
The master schedule, which is typically assembled by the acting principal throughout the second semester after students have submitted their course requests, specifies what courses will be provided, the number of classes that will be offered per course and how those classes will be structured throughout the school day. This year, CHS vice principal Debbi Puente and CUSD deputy superintendent Sharon Ofek will be handling the majority of the work, which will continue up until schedules are released to students in early August.
“It takes a team,” Puente explains. “I have not been the lead person to do it before, and I don’t want to work by myself, but it’s really important to have someone who knows the school, the students, the staff to make it happen.”
She emphasizes that she hopes most of the work will be done before the end of the year, but notes that due to the potential influx of some new students over the summer, the schedule will not be finalized until July or August. Puente, who has been CHS’ vice principal for six years, has never been tasked with the master schedule’s composition before; the schedule has always been left up to the acting principal, formerly Lyons, with support from the counseling department and educational department heads.
“My understanding for this year is that the master schedule will be done by a committee of site and district administrators,” says Barbara McBride, the head of CHS’ English department, “and that their intent is to maintain the status quo regarding the process. The schedule ultimately needs to work best for students.”
Regardless of who is in charge of the schedule, department heads have a meeting in the second semester with the point person. The meeting is designed for the heads to express what they liked about last year’s schedule and offer input or concerns for the next year.
This year, despite the support needed by Puente and Ofek, the department heads say that they have not yet been asked to provide any extra input.
Some CHS teachers have expressed concerns that the district could use the absence of a principal to increase class sizes; however, Ofek emphasizes that there are currently no plans to deviate class sizes significantly, citing a projection of reduced enrollment for the coming years and noting that based on reduced enrollment class sizes may instead shrink.
“I don’t know what the philosophy is this year,” says French teacher Suzanne Marden, the world language department head. “Before COVID, there seemed to be one idea, and post-COVID, we’ve been given the opportunity to have some pretty small class sizes. Hopefully, that continues.”
The assistant principals emphasize that while the master schedule’s composition is challenging, the ultimate priority is the students and ensuring that each CHS kid is satisfied with their schedule come next year.
“It’s this big puzzle to put together,” Puente says. “[The students] say what they want, and then we have to talk to the teachers and figure out what the classes will be. We’re continually tweaking it. There are a lot of variables to be dealt with. That’s why we don’t share it until the end of the summer.”