The Howard County Board of Education voted in November to revise Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) elementary and middle school attendance areas for the 2018–19 school year. Board members said the adjustments were necessary to populate the new Elementary School No. 42, scheduled to open in Hanover next fall, and to realign middle school feeder patterns.
High school redistricting will not take place for the 2018–19 school year, but will be delayed until prior to the expected 2022 opening of new High School No. 13.
A few days before the board’s decision, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman announced an agreement to buy a 12-acre site in Turf Valley that will enable HCPSS to plan for a future elementary school that will help relieve severe overcrowding at the elementary school level.
“The redistricting process underscored the urgency to accelerate this purchase, and I am glad that we have been able to take this step now,” Kittleman said.
Pending County Council approval, the county will acquire the site for $5.75 million. Mangione Family Enterprises of Turf Valley has agreed to sell the property below its appraised value to help address the need for a school in that area.
“Overcrowding didn’t happen overnight, and it will take time to truly find a balance while maintaining our communities and planning for future growth,” HCPSS Interim Superintendent Michael Martirano said. “Combined with the acceleration of a new high school in the east, the replacement and expansion of Talbott Spring Elementary, in Columbia, and the use of innovative programmatic offerings, the Turf Valley school site will ensure that we have the necessary capacity across the county to support long-term student enrollment and growth.”
A new school locator and final attendance area maps for the 2018–19 school year are available on the school system’s website.
HCPSS also announced a new program that enables high school students to earn up to 60 college credits before graduation. Offered in partnership with Howard Community College (HCC), JumpStart is designed to give students a head start toward earning a college degree or preparing for a career at a greatly reduced cost.
Through JumpStart, eligible students will be able to earn enough college credits to complete up to one or two years of college before graduating high school.
The program also seeks to mitigate some school overcrowding and underutilization issues.
Beginning in the 2018-19 school year, JumpStart programs will be introduced at the underutilized Oakland Mills and River Hill high schools. Up to 500 students currently attending the overcrowded Centennial, Howard and Long Reach schools will also be able to take advantage of the programs, provided they change enrollment to Oakland Mills or River Hill.
In addition to the JumpStart initiative, all HCPSS high school students can earn college credits by taking dual-credit courses at their high school or enrolling in college courses on the HCC campus.
JumpStart information sessions will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 6, at Long Reach and Oakland Mills high schools, and on Thursday, Dec. 7, at Bonnie Branch and Elkridge Landing middle schools. Students may also obtain information from their high school counselor.
APFO Vote Invalid
An oversight by the Howard County Council resulted in the expiration of three complicated bills before the council voted on them on Nov. 6. Included in this legislation were Council Bill 60, which regulates mulching as an agricultural practice; Council Bill 61, which updates the county’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO); and Council Bill 62, which reduces allocations in the Growth and Revitalization categories for the county’s General Plan and increases allocations in the Established Communities category starting in 2020.
On Nov. 22, Council Chair Jon Weinstein (D-Dist. 1) and Councilmembers Calvin Ball (D-Dist. 2) and Jen Terrasa (D-Dist. 3) announced they would re-introduce legislation in January to update the APFO. Council Bills 1- and 2-2018 were drafted from the amended versions of Council Bills 61- and 62-2017.
Council bills 1- and 2-2018 will address the recommendations from the APFO Task Force to manage the pace of growth in the county, including tests for schools, housing allocations and roads.
“We heard from the community, made the bill much stronger than what was previously filed by the Administration, and are now taking action to complete this process in a timely manner,” said Ball.
The proposed legislation will be introduced at the council’s legislative session on Jan. 2, and testimony will be accepted at the legislative public hearing on Jan. 16.
County Councilman Calvin Ball announced his candidacy for the office of county executive in the 2018 elections.
“I’m excited over the next coming months to put forward a robust agenda that will reflect our shared values and ideals,” Ball told supporters at his announcement rally at Columbia’s Kahler Hall on Nov. 9. He has served as District 2 councilman since April 2006.
Later in the month, real estate professional Harry Dunbar of Columbia also joined the race for county executive, and will face Ball as a Democrat in the June 26, 2018, primary election.
Dunbar ran unsuccessfully for the same office in the 2006 primary, where he faced Ken Ulman.
Other newcomers to the primary ballot include Sunmy Brown, who filed as a Republican in the District 1 County Council Race, Democrat Steven Hunt who is running in District 3, and Ian Bradley Moller-Knudson, who is running as a Democrat in District 4.