The Howard County Board of Education voted to revise Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) school attendance areas for the 2020-2021 school year. The decision to adjust school boundaries was prompted by the need to relieve crowded schools, more effectively balance capacity utilization among schools throughout the district, and address inequities in the distribution of students affected by poverty. The final decision was made during the Board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 21.
The decision culminates a months-long process that included extensive planning, evaluation and data verification; feedback provided by thousands of stakeholders through community meetings, surveys and seven public hearings; and extensive consideration among Board members during nine public work sessions.
When the redistricting plan goes into effect in the 2020-2021 school year, 5,402 students will be moved to a new school, including:
● 2,827 at the elementary school level,
● 568 at the middle school level, and
● 2,007 at the high school level
The plan prioritizes the need to address capacity differences across many county schools. Fifty-one schools will be within the 90–110 percent target capacity utilization defined in Board policy, compared with 42 currently, and many of the most highly-impacted schools will see significant relief.
The decision also advances socioeconomic equity by addressing the proportion among schools of students receiving Free and Reduced Meals (FARMs) program services:
● 33 total schools above the countywide average of 22.5 percent will see an overall decrease in their FARMs percentage as a result of these moves.
● 13 of these 33 schools will experience a 5-22 percentage point decrease in their FARMs rate.
● The FARMS percentage for four schools below the countywide average will increase by a minimum of 8 percentage points, putting them closer to the countywide average.
HCPSS staff have begun preparing for the transition. During the next several months, system and school leaders will plan for staffing reallocations and other necessary adjustments, acclimate students and families transitioning to a new school community, and prepare to accommodate student needs. Full information about how students will be supported is provided online.
The changes approved by the Board are posted on the BoardDocs website. The locations affected are identified by polygon; families may locate their polygon number on the HCPSS School Locator, which currently shows 2019–20 school assignments. Updates for the 2020–21 school year will be added to the School Locator by mid-December.
Complete information is available at www.hcpss.org/school-planning/boundary-review.