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Presentation of 2017 Feasibility Study Begins the Redistricting Planning Process

Posted: June 23rd, 2017

New School Opening and Capacity Challenges Compel Attendance Area Adjustments

Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Acting Superintendent Michael J. Martirano presented the 2017 Feasibility Study to the Howard County Board of Education during its June 22, 2017 meeting. The Board presentation marks the beginning of a months-long process to plan attendance area adjustments for implementation in the 2018–2019 school year.

“The challenge and goal of a great school system is to equitably serve the needs of each student,” said Acting Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “When we balance our school capacities, we can achieve equity of educational delivery. The study recommendations take us closer to that goal.”

Updated each year, the Feasibility Study is an annual report that projects student enrollment and proposes feasible attendance area adjustments to balance available capacity with enrollment for each school, in compliance with the recently revised Board Policy 6010 – School Attendance Areas.

The study presents a staff recommendation for redistricting school attendance areas, based on careful analysis of current and projected student enrollment at each school. It represents a starting point for continued study and discussion by the Board, Superintendent and Attendance Area Committee, with multiple opportunities for public participation and input.

Howard County is the fastest growing county in Maryland. Current school enrollment is over 56,000 students, with approximately 1,000 new students expected to join the school system next year. Multiple schools, at all three levels, fall outside the target utilization levels of between 90–110 percent of building capacity.

The initial recommendation provides for a comprehensive attendance area adjustment at the elementary, middle and high school levels, in preparation for the opening of as yet unnamed New Elementary School #42 in 2018–2019, and to resolve issues of overcrowded schools in the eastern portions of the county and under capacity schools in western Howard County. The boundary line adjustments would affect approximately 8,800 students, or 15 percent of the student body.

“Redistricting is a difficult process for all concerned, and we understand that it is an emotional issue for families,” said Martirano. “We welcome the input of parents, staff, students and community members, and we will actively listen to and consider your suggestions.”

The Attendance Area Committee (AAC) will meet throughout the summer to review the redistricting needs and consider alternative options. In addition to the AAC meetings, the Office of School Planning will hold two regional sessions for the public on Tuesday, September 12, at 7:30 p.m., at Wilde Lake High School, and Wednesday, September 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Howard High School. The purpose of these meetings will be to review recommendations from the AAC and the 2017 Feasibility Study.

Dr. Martirano will present his recommendation to the Board at its Tuesday, October 3, 2017, meeting, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The Board will hold Public Hearings on Thursday, October 26, at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, November 7, at 7 p.m., and work sessions on Wednesday, November 1; Thursday, November 2; Thursday, November 9; and Tuesday, November 14. All work sessions begin at 7:30 p.m.

The Board is scheduled to take action on the attendance area revisions on Thursday, November 16, 2017, at 7:30 p.m. The new attendance areas will go into effect at the start of the 2018–2019 school year.

The 2017 Feasibility Study, Board report and presentation are available online. Complete information about the redistricting process, including an attendance area planning map, are provided on the HCPSS School Planning website at http://www.hcpss.org/school-planning/.

Community members are invited to provide input and feedback through an online survey. Questions may be submitted to the School Planning Office at schoolplanning@hcpss.org.