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School Boundary Review –
Supporting Students at a New School

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On November 21, 2019, the Board of Education will make a decision on redistricting in order to relieve crowding in schools and balance capacity utilization. The date of this decision allows for over nine months of preparation prior to students beginning in their new schools the following school years. This time will be spent by staff preparing for staff allocations and other considerations that follow such a change. This time will also be spent preparing students and their families transitioning to a new school community.

We know that transitions can be difficult for children and some struggle more than others. Adjusting to a new building, meeting new classmates, and having new teachers can cause anxiety. HCPSS welcomes nearly 1,000 new students to our schools annually, and school administrators and staff in every school are prepared to support students in adjusting to a new school. They will make every effort to ensure this transition is as easy as possible for you and your child.

Schools will ensure that every child continues to receive the same level of care and service at their prior school and we have plans in place to help make this transition smooth. We also know that many families rely on services – either through the Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs) program, pupil personnel workers, or the many community groups that support our school communities. School administrators and staff will work with each school to ensure a continuity of care.

What to expect if your child moves schools as part of redistricting:

  • School administrators and staff in your child’s new school will collaborate closely with staff from the previous school to cover all considerations regarding class placement, accommodations, supports, and any other information that will help your child thrive in their new school.
  • Parents and guardians will participate in the transition process and can assist the new school’s staff in welcoming and supporting your child.
  • Students and parents will have multiple opportunities to visit the school and meet staff before the beginning of the 2020–2021 school year.
  • Your new school will host an open house for all new students and families, and will plan events, activities, and accommodations for transitioning students so they feel welcome and become comfortable in their new environment.
  • School administrators, counselors and other support staff will be available to answer any questions once any redistricting is announced.

Our curriculum and materials are consistent across the school system and students have access to comparable opportunities at every school in our system. Parents are encouraged to have conversations with their child about responding positively to changes. Parents can help their child get to know the new school. Even viewing the new school from a car or seeing a photograph of the school can be helpful.

Parents can support their child by discussing the transition and by making a list of their child’s questions and concerns. Parents, together with their child, can find answers to these questions and address concerns. Your current school administrators and student services staff are available to help you have these conversations so please don’t hesitate to reach out to them for support.


What is the process if my child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan?

All of our schools are staffed to support students with an IEP or 504. Staff members from the former school will meet with staff from the new school to review the IEP/504 plans for any students making transitions between schools. Since parents are part of the IEP/504 team, they will be heavily involved in the transition.

Will my child move schools as part of redistricting if they attend a special education regional program?

Students in special education regional programs attend schools with programs in accordance with their IEP. Families should consult with the IEP coordinator at your child’s current school.

If my student is enrolled in a JROTC program, could their enrollment be affected by redistricting?

As students are allowed the opportunity to apply for any of the 3 JROTC programs hosted in Howard County high schools, enrollment is not based on assigned school. Therefore, redistricting would not impact these enrollments.

Will my child transferring to a new school impact the courses they take in the ARL?

As ARL offers classes to students from all of our high schools, transferring to a new school will not impact ARL coursework.

My child was moved from Centennial, Howard or Long Reach High School as part of JumpStart. How will this impact their status?

Students and trailing siblings districted for Howard, Centennial or Long Reach High Schools who elected to attend River Hill or Oakland Mills High School to participate in JumpStart Dual Enrollment will be allowed to remain at their elected JumpStart Dual Enrollment school regardless of the outcome of boundary adjustment.

In the past, 8th grade students were permitted to stay at their current school. Will that occur again this time if the parent provides transportation?

Exemptions of this nature are at the discretion of the Board, and are normally discussed during the fall work sessions.

My child will be a junior in the 2020-2021 school year. Will they be able to stay at their current school?

HCPSS Policy 6010 provides an exception from boundary changes for rising seniors only (students who complete their junior year in SY 2019-2020). Additional exemptions are at the discretion of the Board, and are normally discussed during the fall work sessions.

Will a phased-in approach for current high school students and trailing siblings be considered?

Policy 6010 exempts rising seniors from reassignment due to boundary adjustments. The Board can consider exempting rising fifth, eighth , and eleventh grade students. The Board can also consider exempting trailing siblings from boundary adjustments. These considerations are normally discussed during the fall work sessions.