A woman attempting to enroll her child in the Mountain View Whisman School District said she waited in line for more than three hours Tuesday, Feb. 1, before being approved to get a code that would allow her to register.
Melinda Athey said she had no idea why it took so long for her to demonstrate residency within the district and be on her way.
"It just surprises me that I live in Mountain View, in the heart of Silicon Valley, and I'm sitting in this stuffy room, waiting," Athey said in the first of a series of phone interviews with the Voice. She first called while waiting in line at the Mountain View Whisman district offices. "It just seems like there has got to be something wrong with the way it's going."
Other parents attempting to register their children expressed similar thoughts to Athey, she said.
"It's definitely taking longer than expected," said Craig Goldman, superintendent of the district. "It's a new set of procedures for our staff. They're working at full speed, but it's taking a long time. That has been exacerbated by it being the first day of registration."
Goldman said that he thinks the parents who waited so long on Tuesday will find that the online process itself is better than the previous method, where parents had to fill out individual forms by hand, which were then entered manually into the schools computer database by school employees.
He said he is familiar with the system, which is employed by the high school his daughters attend in San Mateo. "It's wonderful," he said, "because it will automatically populate fields."
As a father of triplets, Goldman said this feature saved him lots of time. The system will also save paper and photocopying costs for the district, he added.
Athey was frustrated nonetheless. She said that when she signed up one of her older children for classes at Mountain View High School the whole process took all of 15 minutes.
"I made an appointment, I walked in, they photocopied everything and I walked out," she said.
Athey finished registering her child later that day on her home computer. It took her 30 minutes, she said. "It is still unclear to me why I waited three hours today to come home and spend another half hour signing up," she said.
While Goldman admitted that the new system moved unusually slow today, he expects it will get better in the days to come. He also reminded parents that they have all month to register. Because the school district does not assign classes on a first come, first served basis, parents do not need to rush to sign up.
"We're always inundated on the fist day," he said, "and the first day always takes a long time."
All the same, Goldman did not wish to excuse the overly long wait time.
"We apologize for any inconvenience that parents have experienced," he said."We acknowledge that the wait has exceeded our expectations. We will certainly take steps to improve our efficiency."