LIVINGSTON, NJ — Alarmed by the rising numbers of Livingston students being waitlisted for Advanced Placement (AP) classes in subjects such as economics, psychology, physics, environmental science, chemistry and politics, Livingston Board of Education (LBOE) members discussed on Monday whether a solution could be found to remedy this.

LBOE President Pamela Chirls introduced the topic as a major concern of hers, stating that if the district is promoting STEM and encouraging kids to challenge themselves, “how do we allow so many students to be on a science class wait list when we know that will affect their pathway, going forward?”

“It doesn’t seem acceptable to me that if a student has their eye on a particular college and that lacking an AP class will affect that student’s opportunity, we shouldn’t be making adjustments to accommodate them,” said Chirls, who questioned whether adjusting the scheduling windows would be a step in the right direction to solving the problem.

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Board members Ronnie Konner and Samantha Messer echoed the concern over the approximately 100 students who are waiting to be given clearance that they made it into the AP class(es) of their choice. Messer also asked business administrator Steven Robinson if it would help to look at the budget numbers to get a sense of what can be done to remedy this issue.

“I would love to see what we can do,” said Messer. “Maybe there’s a zero period that can be employed to accommodate for lack of space or we look in the budget to see if there’s potential to hire more staff.”

According to Superintendent of Schools Christina Steffner, however, any students who signed up for AP classes within the scheduling window were not denied access to those classes. Only those students who changed their minds or decided to fill out their request forms after that window had closed have been waitlisted, she said.

“When we schedule our staff, we do it based on what the students select,” said Steffner. “While we would like to have no one waitlisted, we can only plan with the information we have in hand.

Robinson added that the problem is broader than adding staff and class sections. If waitlisted students are moved into the AP classes of their choice, a cascade effect in which those students are pulling out of other classes already on their schedules could impact whether the classes they’re being removed from will then be under-filled and teaching staff would then need to be shuffled to adjust to the new placements.

As there was no conclusion as to how the LBOE will handle AP waitlisting, the board said this topic would likely resurface at future meetings when the new school year begins.

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