Master Schedule Builder

The Master Schedule Builder is used to create the master schedule for the school based on a number of criteria, including the number of course requests, teacher constraints, and other rules. The Builder assigns periods to sections based on the rules you set up. The Scheduler can then be used to schedule students into sections based on their course requests. The Master Schedule Builder allows you to run several scenarios in order to find the ideal schedule.

Before using the Master Schedule Builder, ensure the following has been completed:

  • Rollover of non-student and student data into the next school year
  • Verify that periods are set up correctly for the next school year in Setup > Periods
  • Verify that marking periods and marking period dates are set up correctly for the next school year in Setup > Marking Periods
  • Verify that attendance calendars and calendar dates are set up correctly for the next school year in Setup > Attendance Calendars
  • Verify that grade levels are set up correctly for the next school year in Setup > Grade Levels
  • Verify that the courses and sections are set up correctly and are accurate for the next school year in Scheduling > Courses & Sections (for example, add any new courses for the next school year and delete courses that are no longer offered, according to state regulations)
  • Finalize all student requests and review the Requests Reports for the next school year in Scheduling > Requests Reports, and fix any missing or duplicate requests

Once you start working in the Master Schedule Builder, do not make changes to Courses & Sections or the Teacher Schedules Report until you are finished with the Master Schedule Builder.

Ensure you have the next school year selected at the top-right corner of the screen.

Before running the Master Schedule Builder for the first time, it is recommended to take a snapshot of the current master schedule via Master Schedule Snapshots. The snapshot can be used to return to the master schedule that was rolled over, if needed. This only serves as a back-up; it does not make the existing master schedule available as a scenario in the Builder.

A snapshot can also be created upon importing sections into the Builder in the Courses tab.

Renaming the Initial Scenario

The Scenarios tab is used to set up the different scenarios to run in the Master Schedule Builder. The first time you use the Master Schedule Builder, you will use the Initial scenario. This scenario can be renamed, if desired.

1. In the Scheduling menu, click Master Schedule Builder.

The Scenarios tab displays each of the scenarios that have been run in the Master Schedule Builder, and is used to duplicate or create new scenarios as needed (see Creating a New Scenario or Duplicating a Scenario). Use the Initial scenario the first time you use the Master Schedule Builder.

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2. To rename the Initial scenario, click the Title field and enter the desired name. It may be useful to name the scenario using the date and a description, such as "7/13/20 with periods."

3. Click Save.

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The scenario you are currently working in is displayed in the pull-down at the top-right of the screen. To switch the scenario that you are working in, select the desired scenario.  

The scenarios are numbered. If you create a scenario and then delete it, you will see a gap in the numbering of scenarios. For example, if you delete scenario 2, you will see scenario 1, 3, 4, etc. in the pull-down and in the scenarios list.

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Using the Terms Tab

The Terms tab is used to select the terms that will be scheduled.

1. Click the Setup tab.

2. Click the Terms tab if not already opened.

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Each of the terms set up in Setup > Marking Periods are listed. The Active check boxes next to each of the terms are automatically selected.

3. Deselect the Active check box next to terms that will not be scheduled.  

For example, if your school offers full year and semester courses, ensure the Full Year, Semester 1, and Semester 2 check boxes are selected. If you do not offer courses that only meet for one quarter,  deselect the quarter marking periods.

4. Click Save.

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If any term displays "The term has already started," ensure that you have the new school year selected at the top-right of the screen and that the dates for the new school year marking periods in Setup > Marking Periods do not include dates for the current school year.

Using the Periods Tab

The Periods tab is used to select the periods that will have sections assigned.

1. Click the Periods tab (located within the Setup tab).

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All of the periods set up as "Required for Scheduling" in Setup > Periods are auto-selected as Active.

2. Ensure each period that should have sections assigned by the Builder and students scheduled through Run Scheduler is selected. Deselect any periods that will not have sections and students assigned.

Periods without classes scheduled, such as lunch or homeroom periods, should be deselected.

Any existing sections in the deselected periods will be imported with periods locked when importing sections in the Courses tab. For example, if you want your homeroom sections to be imported and remain unchanged even with no requests, deselect the homeroom period to maintain those sections when the Builder runs.

3. Click Save.

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Using the Course Defaults Tab

The Course Defaults tab is used to apply default settings for Meeting Days, Takes Attendance, Graded, Affects GPA, Calendar, Grading Scale, Stacking, and Default Marking Period to new sections.

1. Click the Course Defaults tab (located within the Setup tab).

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Each course is listed, along with its current settings for Meeting Days, Takes Attendance, Graded, Affects GPA, Calendar, Grading Scale, Stacking, and Default Marking Period.

The highlight color indicates if there is currently no setting (red), not all sections have the same setting (yellow), or the section was created by the master scheduler this year (gray).

There is a Color Legend for reference at the top of the screen.

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2. For each course, adjust the course defaults as needed and click Save if changes are made.

Selecting courses in the Stacking pull-down indicates that these courses should be scheduled into the same period, for example, Band 1, Band 2, Band 3, and Band 4.

Each course needs to be selected individually and stacked with the other courses. For example, for the Band 1 course, Band 2, Band 3, and Band 4 must be selected in the Stacking pull-down. For the Band 2 course, Band 1, Band 3, and Band 4 must be selected in the Stacking pull-down, etc.

By default, this field will be populated if the Builder found evidence of stacking in the prior three years.

3. To mass update course defaults, first filter the list of courses to display only those courses that will be updated. Click the Filter button to turn the filters on.

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4. After turning on the Filter and filtering the list of courses that display, click Mass Update.

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5. In the pop-up window, select the Column to update and the Value to assign to the courses.

6. Click Update.

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The updates are made to the courses in the list.

7. Click Save.

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If defaults are not assigned to a course, sections will be assigned the default grading scale and calendar. The Meeting Days will be set to Monday through Friday.

Using Teacher Contraints Tab

The Teacher Constraints tab is where you can set the rooms, periods available, consecutive periods allowed, max periods, allowed courses, and allowed subjects for teachers. You can also set a limit for how many sections of a particular course a teacher is allowed to teach.

1. Click the Teacher Constraints tab (located within the Setup tab).

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A list of the teachers at the school is displayed. The list includes anyone with a teacher profile even if they do not teach courses, such as instructional coaches.

2. To restrict a teacher to a particular room or rooms, select the Rooms.

If no room is defined for the teacher in this tab, it will not be possible to change the room for the teacher on subsequent tabs. The teacher may be scheduled into any available room.

3. To restrict the periods to schedule the teacher, select the Periods Available.

This might be useful if trying to schedule the same planning period for a group of teachers. Select all the periods the teacher is available except for the planning period.

It is strongly recommended to not set period restraints for the first run of the Builder except for those teachers who may be part-time at your school.

4. To restrict the number of consecutive periods the teacher is allowed to teach, enter the maximum number of Consecutive Periods Allowed.

5. To restrict the number of total periods the teacher is allowed to teach, enter the Max Periods.

If the Max Periods is left blank, the Builder will assume the teacher can be scheduled in all periods.

6. Select the Allowed Courses for the teacher.

7. Select the Allowed Subjects for the teacher. These are the subjects set up in Courses & Sections, along with the short name. .

Setting the Allowed Courses and Allowed Subjects parameters allows Focus to assign teachers to sections that are missing a teacher in the Assign Teachers tab.

The Allowed Courses fields will be automatically populated with the courses teachers have taught in the last three years.

For new teachers, you must assign the Allowed Courses or Allowed Subjects that they can teach.

Setting both Allowed Courses and Allowed Subjects for a teacher acts as an OR condition.

Allowed Courses and Allowed Subjects can be left blank for a teacher to allow the teacher to be assigned to any course.

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8. To limit how many sections of a particular course a teacher can teach, click Edit in the Course Limits column.

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9. In the pop-up window, select the Course.

The Course pull-down is limited to the courses the teacher is allowed to teach as set in Allowed Courses.

10. Enter the number of sections of the course the teacher is allowed to teach in the Limit field.

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11. Press Enter to add the row.

12. If needed, add additional course limits to the table.

13. Click Close when finished.

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14. When finished entering teacher constraints, click Save.

Using the Courses Tab

The Courses tab is used to add, edit, or delete sections in the master schedule. In the work area, the maximum number of students allowed to be scheduled into new sections, the number of student requests for the course, the number of recommended sections needed to accommodate student requests, and the current number of sections (if sections were imported) are provided for each course in order to help make decisions on whether new sections are needed or existing sections can be deleted.

Instead of manually adding or removing sections, the Optimize feature can be used to have Focus automatically create the optimal number of sections based on all of these factors.

Pick one of the two options below before moving on to the next step:

  1. If the goal is to keep the current master schedule, select the "With Periods" option when importing the master schedule. This will capture the master schedule. This option must be done first before using the other two options or the current master schedule will not be recoverable.

    Note: If a Master Schedule Snapshot was created before working in the Master Schedule Builder or upon importing sections within the Master Schedule Builder, the snapshot can be used to restore the master schedule. The restored master schedule would then need to be imported into the Builder using the "With Periods" option.

    It is recommended to rename the master schedule scenario so that everyone knows it is the existing master schedule. The scenario should only be run if the current master schedule needs to be restored.
  2. If the goal is to start a new scenario based on the current master schedule, select the "Without Periods" option when importing the master schedule.

If you click Optimize without importing sections first, the current master schedule will import without periods.

1. Click the Courses tab.

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2. Click Import Sections from Master Schedule.

This will import the sections rolled from the previous year's master schedule into the work area. This saves time if most teachers will be teaching the same courses they taught last year. Sections will not import if they are not assigned to a teacher or if the number of students in the section is 0.

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3a. Select Use Snapshot to create a new snapshot of the master schedule. A new snapshot is only created upon initial use of this option. Any subsequent times this option is selected, the previously created snapshot will be used to import sections.

3b. Select Overwrite Snapshot to create a new snapshot.

These snapshots will not be deleted by the cronjob and will display under Master Schedule Snapshots with the default description “MSB Auto Snapshot.”

3c. Click Without Periods to import sections from the master schedule without the periods they were assigned. This allows the Builder to assign periods to these sections. This option should not be selected for the initial scenario if you wish to maintain a copy of the existing master schedule.

3d. Click With Periods to import sections from the master schedule with the periods they were assigned. This option will lock the periods on the sections, and the Builder will not overwrite them when run. Use this option to retain a copy of the existing master schedule. This option cannot be re-selected to return to the original master schedule if importing without periods was selected for the first scenario.

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The screen is refreshed and the sections are copied into the work area.

4. It may be useful to use the Filter feature to filter the courses displayed in the work area. For example, you can filter the list of courses to display one subject area.

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5. Enter a number in the Max Size field to set this number as the maximum class size on any new sections of the course.

Changing the max size of sections in a course will affect the number of required sections. Adjusting the max size may help meet the need of scheduling students into the course.

  • The Student Reqs column displays the total number of student requests for the course.
  • The Recommended column indicates the number of sections that are required in order to fulfill the student requests for the course, based on the Max Size indicated.
  • The Current column indicates the current number of sections that exist for the course. The field displays in yellow if there are more sections than the recommended number. The field displays in red if there are less sections than the recommended number. Refer to the Color Legend at the top the screen.

6. To add, edit, or delete sections of a course, click the icon in the Add/Edit Sections column next to the course.

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In the pop-up window, the existing sections are listed.

  • The Teacher column displays the teacher assigned to the section.
  • The Max Size displays the maximum number of students who can be scheduled into the section.
  • The Room column is used to assign a room number to the section.
  • The Lock Period column is used to assign a period to the section and lock it. This prevents the Builder from assigning a period to the section. Leave this column blank to allow the Builder to select the best period to assign the section.
  • The MP column displays the marking period of the course.
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7. Edit the Teacher, Max Size, Room, Lock Period, or MP on existing sections as needed.

8. To view the teacher's schedule, click the icon in the Teacher Schedule column.

The teacher's currently scheduled sections are displayed along at the bottom-right side of the window. The Max Size, Room, Lock Period, and MP can be edited on the teacher's current sections as needed.

At the top-right of the window, the teacher's Rooms, Periods Available, Consecutive Periods Allowed, Max Periods, and Allowed Subjects can be viewed and edited as needed, just as on the Teacher Constraints tab.

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9. To delete a section that is not needed, click the red minus sign to the left of the section.

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10. In the confirmation message, click OK.

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11. Click Save.

12. To add a new section, select the Teacher and edit the Max Size and MP if needed.

The Teacher does not have to be selected at this point. It can be left blank, and the teacher will be assigned in the Assign Teachers tab.

13. Select How Many? sections to add.

14. Press Enter to add the row.

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15. Click Save and click the X to close the pop-up window.

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16. To have Focus add sections and remove sections as needed, click Optimize the Number of Sections.

By default, Focus will optimize any course that has requests and a max size set. Courses like Intensive Reading may not have requests at this point in the scheduling process, so Focus will not select the Optimize check box by default to remove the sections that were rolled over from last year.

Deselect the Optimize check box next to any course you do not want to optimize before clicking "Optimize the Number of Sections."  

New sections added by Focus will not have a teacher assigned.

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Using the Sections Tab

The Sections tab is where most of the adjustments are done in the Master Schedule Builder. All of the sections are listed, and edits can be made to teacher, marking period, followup courses, rooms, rotation days, etc. as needed. Once the Builder is run, the Section tab also displays the period the section was scheduled and any scheduling issues.

1. Click the Sections tab.

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The list of sections is displayed.

Use the Filter feature to refine the list of sections. For example, to view only singleton or doubleton sections, click the Filter button to enable the filters, and in the text box above the Sections column, enter 1 or 2.

2. To assign a teacher to a section missing a teacher or to change the teacher who was assigned to a section, select the Teacher from the pull-down.

Teachers can also be assigned to sections that are missing a teacher in the Assign Teachers tab.

3. To reassign a section to a different course (for example, an Algebra 1 section needs to change to an Algebra 1 Honors section), select the Course from the pull-down.

If a teacher is assigned to the section, the only courses available in the Course pull-down will be courses the teacher is allowed to teach, according to the setup in the Teacher Constraints tab.

4. To edit the marking period of the section, select the marking period in the MP pull-down.

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5.  If the course has a follow-up course (for example, Economics follows American Government, and therefore needs to be assigned to the same period), select the course in the Followup pull-down.

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6. Edit the room assignment by selecting the room from the Rooms pull-down.

If the room is blank, the section will be assigned to "Any," which means the system will not check for room conflicts.

7. Edit the maximum amount of students who can be scheduled into the section by entering a number in the Max Size field.

8. If the section needs to span more than one period, enter the number of periods in the Periods Spanned field.

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9. If your school uses rotation days, select the number of days the section meets during the rotation in the Rotation Days pull-down.

10. Select the appropriate rotation day check boxes for when the section will meet.

You can use Mass Update to mass assign rotation days to a group of sections.

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If the master schedule that was imported had rotation days set, the rotation days will be preset on the sections. If you want the Builder to determine the best rotation day for the new schedule, you will need to update the Rotation Days column to 1 (or the applicable number) and then mass update the A day and B day columns to be blank.

11. To manually set the period the section meets instead of letting the Builder decide, select the period in the Lock Period pull-down.

Leave the Lock Period blank to allow the Builder to select the best period to schedule the section.

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12. Click Save after making any changes.

13. To delete a section, click the minus sign to the left of the section.

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14. In the confirmation message, click OK.

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The row is grayed out to indicate it will be deleted.

15. Click Save to complete the deletion.

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16. To copy a section, click Copy to the left of the section.

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A duplicate section is created. Adjust the settings on the section as needed.

17. Click Save.

Refer to the Sections and Requests columns to help you determine where sections can be deleted or need to be added.

18. To add a new section, enter the information in the blank row at the top of the table.

For new sections, the Max Size will display with the default value from the Courses tab. A value should only be entered if none exists and the school intends to build sections, or if you wish to increase or decrease the max size.

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19. Press Enter to add the row and click Save.

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Using the Assign Teachers Tab

The Assign Teachers tab is used to assign teachers to sections that are missing a teacher. Focus will suggest teachers for sections based on who taught those courses in the past three years. The settings in the Teacher Constraints tab are also taken into account. You can accept the suggestions, or manually assign the teachers.

1. Click the Assign Teachers tab.

If Focus has a suggestion for a section missing a teacher, the row is highlighted in yellow and the teacher's name is displayed in the Suggested column.

If Focus does not have a teacher suggestion, then the Teacher Constraints may need to be adjusted.

2. To accept a suggestion for an individual section, click the teacher's name in the Suggested column.

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The suggested teacher is populated in the Assigned column.

3. Click Save.

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4. To accept all of the teacher suggestions, click Assign Suggestions at the top of the screen.

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The suggested teachers are assigned to the sections, and the assignments are auto-saved.

5. To manually assign a teacher, select the teacher in the Assigned column.

6. Click Save.

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If the teacher is not allowed to teach the course (based on the Allowed Courses and Allowed Subjects set up in the Teacher Constraints tab), the row will highlight in red and the teacher assignment cannot be saved.

Using the Schedule Tab

Once you have set all the rules for this scenario, the Schedule tab is used to run the Builder and the Scheduler. The Builder will assign periods to sections based upon all the rules you have set up in the previous tabs. Once the Builder is finished, you can then review the Scheduled Period and Scheduling Issues columns in the Sections tab. Once you are satisfied with the results from running the Builder, you will then run the Scheduler from the Schedule tab, which will schedule students into sections based on their requests.

Running the Builder

1. Click the Schedule tab.

2. Click Run the builder.

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Any issues encountered by the Builder are listed in a table. If no issues are encountered, a message displays indicating the Builder ran successfully.

3. Click examine to view issue details.

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4. The Teacher, Course, MP,  Max Size, and Lock Period for the section can be edited and saved as needed at the top of the window. The section can also be deleted. Refer to the available teachers at the bottom of the window if a new teacher assignment is needed. Click the X to close the pop-up window when finished.

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5. Once the Builder is finished, click the Sections tab.

6. Review the Scheduled Period column to see what periods the Builder has assigned to the sections.

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7. The Builder may have been unable to assign a period to some sections. Review the Scheduling Issues column to see the issues the Builder encountered.

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8. If there were scheduling issues, make the necessary changes in the Sections tab or other relevant tabs, and then re-run the Builder in the Schedule tab.

Running the Scheduler

1. Once you are satisfied with the periods the Builder assigned to sections, click the Schedule tab.

If there are no more errors, a message displays that the Builder ran successfully.

2. Click Run the scheduler.

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The Scheduler screen is opened in a new tab.

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3. Select the desired Scheduler options:

Field Description
Delete Current Schedules This option overrides existing student schedules that have not been locked. This option should be selected when running the Scheduler to allow schedules to be shifted to improve the overall percentage of students scheduled. 
Gradelevel Select the grade level to schedule. One or multiple grade levels can be selected. 
Override Period Links between Semesters
This option allows students to be scheduled into different periods but still have the same teacher from semester 1 to semester 2. This option should be used after other options to resolve scheduling conflicts have been tried.

Note: This option is available when the system preference “Enable the options for splitting sections in the Scheduler” is enabled in Setup > System Preferences > Scheduling tab. 
Override Period & Teacher Links between Semesters This option allows students to be scheduled into different periods and teachers from semester 1 to semester 2. This option should be used after other options to resolve scheduling conflicts have been tried.

Note: This option is available when the system preference “Enable the options for splitting sections in the Scheduler” is enabled in Setup > System Preferences > Scheduling tab. 
Override Team If the school uses team scheduling, this option allows students to be scheduled into sections that are assiged to a team other than the one the student is assigned to.
Override Seat Counts This option allows the Scheduler to fill any number of students into sections. This may be useful to determine which periods might need additional sections and where sections should be deleted or moved to a different period. It is not recommended to use this option for the final Scheduler run. 
Schedule into sections meeting within these semesters Select the semesters to schedule. 

4. To edit the order in which graduation subjects are scheduled when there is a conflict with the student's requests being filled, click the Scheduler Priorities tab.

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5. Edit the Sort Order next to each graduation subject as needed.

A graduation subject with a sort order of 1 will have priority before a graduation subject with a sort order of 2 when scheduling the students.

6. Click back to the Run Scheduler tab.

7. To run the Scheduler, click OK.

The results of the Scheduler run are displayed, including the percentage of students completely scheduled and the percentage of requests filled.

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8. Review the Courses with Unfilled Requests tab and All Unfilled Requests tab, and close the window when finished.

If you are continuing to use the Master Schedule Builder, all corrections and changes need to be done in the Master Schedule Builder.

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9. Click the Scenarios tab.

The percentage of requests scheduled, the percentage of students fully scheduled, and the last run date are displayed next to the scenario name.

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Creating a New Scenario or Duplicating a Scenario

After running the Master Schedule Builder for the first scenario, you may wish to duplicate the scenario. This will save the existing scenario and settings, and create a copy of the scenario which you can adjust and run to see if the percent scheduled improves. If you are looking to start fresh, you can create a new scenario. This will create a brand new scenario which has to be set up from scratch.

1. Click the Scenarios tab.

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2. To duplicate a scenario, click Duplicate next to the appropriate scenario.

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A copy of the scenario is created, with the title "Copy of (name of original scenario)."

3. Edit the Title of the scenario, as needed, and click Save.

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4. To create a brand new scenario and set up the Master Schedule Builder tabs from scratch, enter a Title for the new scenario in the blank row at the top of the table and press Enter.

5. Click Save.

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6. Ensure the scenario you want to run is selected in the pull-down at the top-right of the screen. Then go through the rest of the Master Schedule Builder tabs to set up and run the new scenario.

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Once you are satisfied with the results from the Master Schedule Builder, any further tweaks should be made in Scheduling > Courses & Sections, Scheduling > Teacher Schedules Report, or Scheduling > Master Schedule Report.  If you make changes outside of the Builder, do not run the Builder again or you will overwrite those changes.