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School Boundaries

The school boundary process begins with the Board of Education review of the yearly feasibility study.

The Feasibility Study is presented to the Board of Education annually in June. When attendance area adjustments are planned, a citizen-led Attendance Area Committee meets to make recommendations to the Superintendent for boundary adjustment. The Superintendent’s recommendations are presented to the public, and after public hearings and work sessions, the Board votes to approve changes in attendance areas. The 2018 Feasibility Study was presented to the Board on June 7, 2018. The Board, Superintendent and School Planning staff are guided by Policy 6010 when considering boundary changes.

Update on Centennial and Howard High School Overcrowding Options

After reviewing community feedback, HCPSS will allow students zoned for Centennial and Howard high schools to request reassignment to Glenelg or Marriotts Ridge high schools for the 2019-2020 school year through Policy 9000 Student Residency, Eligibility, Enrollment and Assignment procedures. Additionally, these students can pursue opportunities through the Applications and Research Laboratory (ARL), work-based options and HCPSS JumpStart.

Read the full news post →

Submitting an Appeal

In accordance with the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) 13A.01.05.02, please be advised that an appeal of the Board’s decision may be filed with the Maryland State Board of Education within thirty (30) calendar days of the Board of Education meeting at which action was taken on the Attendance Area Adjustment Plan.

The appeal is to be mailed to the Maryland State Board of Education, 200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, MD 21201 in one of the following ways:

Frequently Asked Questions

General Redistricting Questions

It seems that the Board of Education adjusts school attendance areas almost every year. Why is that?

HCPSS reviews school attendance areas each year to balance school capacities with enrollments but actual attendance area adjustments are less frequent. Rapid growth in Howard County requires the school system to adjust school attendance areas to accommodate the new students and occasionally to balance enrollments across regions or improve existing school feeds. The county has opened 31 new schools since 1990.

My child is happy at the school he attends. Why are we being reassigned to another school?

HCPSS is responsible for ensuring that all school buildings in the county are run efficiently and effectively. This means keeping all schools at or near capacity. Ensuring that all available seats in all schools are used before new schools are built saves tax dollars in the school system’s operating and capital budgets. When a school’s enrollment exceeds its capacity, relocatable classrooms may be used as a temporary solution. If enrollment growth is expected to continue, then a permanent addition or a new school may be considered. However, if space is available in other schools in the county then students may be moved through the attendance area adjustment process to a school with available space. When the county opens a new school, the redrawing of attendance lines is inevitable.

Our school is not overcrowded. Why is my child being reassigned to another school while other children are being moved into our school?

Rapid growth in an area, available seats in nearby schools, and the proximity of one school to another can make multiple attendance area adjustments the most feasible option for ensuring enrollment balance among all schools. This may result in students being reassigned from a school that is not overcrowded to a nearby school with available space in order to accommodate students from a school that is overcrowded.

 We were reassigned to a different school a few years ago, and now you are moving us again. Why can’t our neighborhood have stability?

Every attempt is made to avoid moving students more than once at any level. However, the growth in a specific area might necessitate more frequent moves. Whenever possible, changes are phased in at the high school level so as not to disrupt the continuity of a student’s school experience any more than absolutely necessary.

In the event that your child is reassigned, all those involved in making the changes are sensitive to the impact on families and children. Transition teams are established to ensure that students move smoothly between sending and receiving schools.

You are trying to break up our neighborhood. We are a community and we don’t want to be split.

There is no definition of neighborhood that works for everyone. When attendance area adjustments are necessary, attempts are made to keep geographical areas intact. However it is not always possible to do so. As a result, villages and neighborhoods may be divided among schools.

We are a small neighborhood of only a few students. Can’t you just leave us at the school we currently attend?

Although a small group of students may seem insignificant, even 20-25 students can have an impact on an individual school, requiring an additional teacher and/or a relocatable classroom. Often it is many small adjustments, such as moving a small group of students to better align neighborhoods and feeds with school attendance areas, that when combined result in significant improvements to overall school enrollment capacities.

What factors are considered when determining school attendance areas?

There are fourteen (14) factors listed in Policy 6010 that are considered when attendance area adjustments are proposed. These factors are categorized in the following groupings: Facility Utilization, Community Stability and Demographic Characteristics of Student Population. Each category is listed in detail on pages 3-5 of Policy 6010.

While each of these factors is considered, it may be impractical to reconcile each and every school attendance area adjustment with each and every factor.

We live closer to a particular school. Why doesn’t my child attend that school?

Every effort is made to create “neighborhood” school attendance areas by assigning students to the school that is closest to their home. However, that is not always possible as the school system attempts to make the most effective and efficient use of all school buildings.

Due to the unavailability of sites, schools can’t always be located where they are most needed. Sometimes a new school must be built close to an existing school. This can result in the assignment of students to a school that is not necessarily the closest to their home.

Why are FARM percentages different in attendance area adjustment reports than those in the school profiles.

The percentage of participation in the FARM program for attendance area adjustments is calculated based on the home address of enrolled Kindergarten through Grade 12 students in April 2017. Out of district students are counted in the attendance area of the school assignment based on their home address. Attendance area adjustments are tested based on geography. School Planning does not project student reassignment.

The percentage of participation in the FARM program for school profiles is calculated based on the attending school of enrolled PreK (if lunch is provided by Food and Nutrition Services) through Grade 12 students in October 2015. Out of district students are counted in the school that they attend.

Attendance Area Committee Questions

How do I find my polygon ID?

Use this map application to determine your polygon ID: Find your polygon ID (Polygon Enrollment Projections School Year Map)

How does the attendance area adjustment process work?

The Feasibility Study presents long-range planning that aligns attendance area adjustments with future capital projects. The Board receives this strategic plan annually. The process is dynamic and will continue to respond to changes in the environment. Plans are also refined based on review and comment from the Board of Education, HCPSS staff, the Attendance Area Committee and members of the community.

The Attendance Area Committee (AAC), is advisory to the Superintendent, and critiques plans by applying criteria set by the Board of Education Policy 6010. The duties of the AAC include commenting and reviewing capacity needs and preliminary attendance area adjustment plans developed by staff. After review by the Superintendent, the proposed plans are presented to the Board of Education and the public. Subsequently, the Board hold public hearings and public work sessions, then approves changes in attendance areas.

How are members of the Attendance Area Adjustment Committee selected?

HCPSS advertises for membership for the AAC in years when redistricting is scheduled. Persons who are interested in serving on the committee complete a short, online survey or complete a written form. An interview process is conducted. Based on the surveys and interviews, a list of potential committee members is recommended to the Superintendent.

Members are selected with the intention of having at least one member from each of the school system’s six planning regions – Columbia East, Columbia West, Northeastern, Northern, Southeastern, and Western. Candidates are selected based on their personal skills, knowledge of schools, roads, neighborhoods, and past experience with the attendance area adjustment process. Details about the AAC make-up and responsibilities can be found in the Implementation Procedures of Policy 6010

Why isn’t my school represented on the committee?

The Attendance Area Committee is comprised of no more than 15 members including one student member. Due to the number of schools in the HCPSS, not every school can have representation. Members do not represent any one school or particular neighborhood; members must consider the needs of the entire county rather than one school or neighborhood when making their decisions.