The Department of Parks and Recreation’s online registration process is getting mixed reviews, as many frustrated parents were unable to sign their children up for their first choice classes.
Winter class registration began yesterday at 7 a.m. for gymnastics and 7:30 a.m. for all other classes. Shortly after, users took to the ARLnow comment section to share their thoughts on the process.
“I finally got to register for the class I wanted for my kid, which now had a wait list as large as the actual class,” one parent said. “I’m glad I spent almost as much time trying to register for a class that was full than my kid would have spent IN the class had I been able to register.”
“I had a fun morning waiting for pages to load, trying to figure out if I actually signed up for a class, and after about forty-five minutes of that, wound up with my son in fourteenth place on a wait list for one of the few weekend classes available,” another wrote. “Tons of weekday classes are available, but my wife and I have this thing called work that we must do in order to live here in Arlington.”
Though it’s the primary way for residents to register for classes, the online system isn’t the only way to do so.
Residents can either mail, deliver, or phone-in their forms to the registration office. Processing for mailed forms also began yesterday morning. However, delivered or phoned-in registrations won’t be accepted or processed until Dec. 16.
According to DPR Deputy Director Jennifer Fioretti, the department upgraded its online registration software in October and moved its hosting to an outside vendor in order to combat such issues. Technological problems have elicited widespread complaints from users in the past.
However, the new system did prove successful for some.
“Just registered for several classes and it was a breeze, on Chrome,” one user said. “Sorry it was tricky for you earlier, but it seems to be working great now. Much improved from the old software.”
In an e-mail, Fioretti apologized to those who experienced problems and explained what happened:
Registration days at the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) are certainly our busiest. This Wednesday, we experienced significant slowdowns that caused frustration to the public. We apologize for this inconvenience. By Wednesday afternoon, we processed more than 5,000 individual class registrations, which is consistent with past years.
DPR is always looking for ways to improve and streamline the customer experience. This October, we upgraded our registration software and moved the hosting services to an outside vendor. Post-upgrade, we had several small online registrations to test the new system (nature center classes, 55+ trips and classes), which were successful. We expected similar positive results for yesterday’s Enjoy Arlington class registration. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
DPR IT staff worked closely with the software vendor to monitor the Enjoy Arlington registration processes. The vendor reported that key performance indicators suggested that the servers could handle the projected volume. Despite this, our registration processing speed was very low. We began seeing issues with the system just as our gymnastic registration (starts as 7:00 a.m.) was slowing down and our online registration (starts at 7:30 a.m.) for all other programs was beginning. By mid-afternoon, the system appeared to be back to normal. We are analyzing yesterday’s entire registration process minute-by-minute to determine what caused these issues. Once we know, we will develop a plan to ensure it won’t happen again.
Although some popular classes and days/times are full, many classes still have availability. We encourage people to add their names to the waitlist, as we do have cancellations. If anyone has any questions or concerns they should contact DPR Registration on the web at registration.arlingtonva.us, via e-mail at [email protected] or call 703-228-4747.