NEW ULM As of last week, more than 96 percent of original student requests for courses were met at New Ulm High School, Principal Mark Bergmann told the Board of Education, reporting on course registration for next year.
Students made 10,324 requests as part of registration. Just 3.64 percent, or 376, requests were not met. Approximately half of the students will go with alternates. Approximately 91 students (with 188 requests) will select new courses.
As part of registration for courses, students register for 12 units, explained Bergmann. These units are either semester (one unit) or year courses (two units). Students also register for three to five alternates. At the same time, the School Board determines the number of full-time equivalents (FTEs) of teachers for the high school. Courses are then eliminated or added based on student registration numbers and to meet the board FTE number.
Next, explained Bergmann, a schedule is written. Student requests are loaded into the schedule. Adjustments are made to the schedule to meet the greatest number of student requests.
Next, teachers are provided a schedule to make teaching assignment recommendations. It helps, he said, if teachers are given the chance to teach to their strengths. Then, minor modifications are made to the schedule. Student conflicts are adjusted for alternates, and, if courses are not available, students are re-registered for other courses.
Some of the eliminated courses include: Spanish and German III, Honors English 10, Journalism, AP Economics, Structures and Systems, Accounting, JAVA, Drama, Speech, Family Living, Construction, Home Maintenance, Metals I, Transportation, Zoology and more.
On the positive side, the number of single-section classes is down from 60-plus this year, to 41.
Even more student requests would have been met, said Bergmann, if he was not trying out "something unusual" - scheduling a common free period (prep time) for teachers in all core areas. This common prep time will give teachers a chance to collaborate, Bergmann hopes, and student will receive "value back."
Any changes in the number and size of class sections are due to: student choice; variation in grade size; and an effort to reduce section size in core subjects.
Bergmann also informed the board about an effort to get a local teacher certified to teach a college psychology class. This initiative will help keep students who would otherwise leave campus in the district. The district would then not "lose" $500 per student that would otherwise "follow" the student. The board could allocate this revenue to eliminating a $300 per-student per-course fee for online courses, now available to students not in need of remediation, argued Bergmann. This fee is now shouldered by families, which probably discourages some students from taking these extra classes, he said.