The Richmond County school district waited later than most surrounding districts to finalize class schedules, according to an informal survey of area school systems.
The delay left hundreds of high school students twiddling their thumbs in libraries, gymnasiums and cafeterias this week as data clerks and guidance counselors tried to generate schedules and fix the kinks in a new computer software program.
Columbia County educators say they finalized schedules in the spring and mailed them to students during the summer.
In Burke County, spring scheduling sessions allowed the district's one high school to have everything organized by midsummer, Burke County High Principal Chris Henry said.
"By the end of June or early July, every child had a schedule," he said. "When we had open house, all the schedules were printed and ready to go."
Richmond County Schools Superintendent Charles Larke said Thursday night that new software created horrible problems. He said better computer training and earlier scheduling sessions should prevent students from having to wait days for class schedules at the beginning of next school year.
"It's been a nightmare for the high schools," Dr. Larke said Thursday. "We need additional training on SchoolMAX (computer software). The software is not user-friendly."
Dr. Larke promised school board members that he would begin the scheduling process earlier for the next school year.
"We'll try to get the kids registered before they leave in May," he said.
Carol Rountree, the district's guidance director, said the high school began taking requests for classes in the spring but didn't finish the entire process because of end-of-course testing. By the end of school, educators took requests and typed them in to create a master schedule.
"This is when you realize you have conflicts," she said. "In this case, (resolving the conflict) was delayed by the computers. Some of that was data entry. The skill level was different from school to school."
When Burke County purchased new computer software, consultants from the software company were available during crucial periods, such as the first week of school and the first time progress reports were generated. Richmond County had consultants in town last week but not this week as school began.
In North Augusta, scheduling begins in the spring, with adjustments made during the summer. Only minor changes are left to the beginning of fall classes, school officials said.
Dr. Rountree said almost all high school students should be in a classroom by Monday.
Next week will be spent making certain those schedules will work out.
"It is nothing that is insurmountable," she said.
Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.