Howard County Board Seeks Public Input on Options to Relieve High School Overcrowding

I came across this and thought I would make sure my readers knew about it….The HCPSS is looking for input…and if you have a child in the school sure to provide them something…because some of the listed options are concerning (at least to me).

The Howard County Public School System’s (HCPSS) Board of Education is seeking public input as it reviews several options to relieve high school overcrowding in School Year 2019-2020 and beyond. The Board will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, September 11 at 7 p.m. at the Department of Education.

The Board is considering the following options to relieve high school overcrowding:

  • Option 1. JumpStart Trailing Siblings: Based on trends, in SY 2019-20, 13 to 24 percent of students at Centennial, Long Reach and Howard high schools are expected to take advantage of either JumpStart or other existing off-campus programmatic offerings.
  • Option 2. Boundary Adjustments: Boundary adjustments are an option for SY 2019-20, based on Policy 6010.
  • Option 3. Open Enrollment: Open enrollment would offer family choice for reassignment from Centennial, Howard, Long Reach and Mt. Hebron high schools to attend out-of-district schools that are currently below capacity, such as Glenelg, Marriotts Ridge and Oakland Mills high schools.
  • Option 4. Rising 9th Grade Temporary Reassignment: For four years, each class of rising 9th graders geographically assigned to Howard or Centennial high schools would be reassigned to a receiving school for one year before transferring to their geographic home high school.
  • Option 5. Rising 9th Grade Permanent Reassignment: A single cohort of rising 9th graders geographically assigned to Howard or Centennial high schools would be assigned to a receiving school for the entirety of their high school experience.
  • Option 6. 9th Grade Academy: As a mid- to long-term possibility, HCPSS could establish a 9th grade academy after a renovation of the Faulkner Ridge Center.
  • Option 7. Do Nothing: This option keeps the status quo for SY 2019-20.
  • Option 8. Other: Other suggestions that are not listed.

To learn more about the options to relieve high school overcrowding, visit the HCPSS School Planning webpage.

Please refer to the specific option you wish to support or oppose when providing feedback. To register to speak at the public hearing, click here. In lieu of public testimony, community members may provide written testimony via letter (Board of Education Office, 10910 Clarksville Pike, Ellicott City, MD 21042) or email ( no later than 4:30 p.m. on September 18, 2018. The Board is scheduled to take action on September 20, 2018.

For questions, please contact the Board of Education office at 410-313-7194.

For me…this was easy…I would choose option 2. Redistricting (or “Boundary Adjustments”…whichever term you want to use) is difficult but necessary and it is time for the Board to move forward. They were headed down that path before and bailed on it (Nov 17th, 2017 Baltimore Sun Article):

After nine months of deliberating redistricting strategies for Howard County schools, the School Board decided Thursday to significantly scale back redistricting at the elementary and middle school levels and halt high school redistricting in preparation for planned school construction, expected to be completed in five to six years.

My hope is that they make this decision…but time will tell.

I really feel like these other options are a way to avoid the messy redistricting process (especially with the public) and kick the can down the road….and this road only leads back to redistricting anyway…so why not do it now?

And does anyone else find it weird that option 1 lists “students at Centennial, Long Reach and Howard high schools” and option 3 lists “reassignment from Centennial, Howard, Long Reach and Mt. Hebron high schools” and options 4 and 5 only lists “geographically assigned to Howard or Centennial high schools”? I am very curious why some plans affect Long Reach and Mt. Hebron while all plans affect Howard and Centennial?

I also HATE (ok…maybe hate is to strong a word…STRONGLY DISLIKE) option 4. Here is why….consider this…my kid is moving from Middle School to High School, so lets send her to a new High School where she will make new friends, get involved in school activities (sports, clubs, music, etc…) and then after one year, lets move her to a new high school…where as a Sophomore, she gets to start all over leaving what she had just built at the other school. Now this is just an example (because my kid has graduated from HCPSS – Long Reach actually) but it is an example that shows why this is such a bad idea. I can’t even believe this is on the table for consideration. I can’t image a single parent loving this option.

I am also interested in seeing how options 3 and 5 would work in regards to buses…this would be an important aspect of those plans for me. I don’t have much information on these plans yet…but they both still feel like a way to avoid redistricting now.

September 11th at 7:00pm will be the public meeting…whatever option you think is best…make sure to show up and make your voice heard.

I reached out to all 8 HoCoBOE candidates to get their input on this news and the options (because this is important enough that we should all know where these candidate stand on this). Here is what I have received back at this point: (note – I listed part of their response in the article with links to the full statements that were sent to me).

Robert Miller:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide our thoughts about redistricting. A disclaimer, if I may… there are many variables involved, and as I learn more (especially if I end up on the Board and have better access to information), my views may change. I will state where my thoughts are now, but I won’t make promises about the future as there are many moving pieces regarding this issue. Where I presently stand will be stated toward the end of this response (starting with “We should do some redistricting.”); if you do not wish to read my thoughts about the other options or reasons for my views, please skip to there (toward the bottom of p.2, below).

Read the full statement here

Chao Wu:

With the overcrowding issue prevailing in our school system, we need take proactive procedures before the year 2023. I like the idea of the JumpStart trailing siblings expansion, manageable boundary adjustment, open enrollment and others. We should not expect to solve the overcrowding issue one night, but we need move forward with concrete steps to relieve the overcrowding problem, based on solid data, good modeling, available budget and student, parent and community feedback. 

Read the full statement here

Sabina Taj:

The most effective, least disruptive, way to address overcrowding is to build more schools. Now that a site has been chosen for high school #13, let’s expedite the selection of a site in Elkridge for high school #14 and get serious about building both schools as soon as possible. Marriott’s Ridge was built in 18 months so we know what’s possible if the will exists. I’d want to blend the building of new schools with strategic redistricting that addresses current overcrowding while anticipating future growth.

Read the full statement here

Anita Pandey:

The Board is asking for our input, and I am confident that members of our community will sign up to speak at the next BOE meeting and propose some “creative solutions.” I proposed 7 on the HoCo School Interest page not that long ago (I will try to locate them and send them along).  I would like to hear what HoCo residents propose at our next BOE meeting.

Read the full statement here

Bob Glascock:

Redistricting has become a necessity in Howard County. The challenge is how to implement it. Input from the community is critical in the decision making process. Creative solutions help us consider new ways to address redistricting but the bottom line is that we must do it. I disagreed with the BOE’s recent decision to delay redistricting. We cannot wait.

Read the full statement here

Danny Mackey:

I, like so many of you, am frustrated that the Board of Education has abdicated its responsibility to the people of Elkridge for well over a decade. Thanks to the tireless advocacy of the community the breadth and urgency of the overcrowding situation at Howard High School, as well as schools throughout Howard County, has come to light. School safety is the number one priority of my campaign and I have long asserted that school overcrowding is a school safety issue.

Read the full statement here

Jen Mallo:

The current system of attendance areas is not safe, not equitable, and is financially disastrous.If students cannot safely transit hallways and stairwells, cannot have room to sit at a desk in a classroom or cafeteria —that is unsafe.It is not equitable that students at overcrowded schools do not have the same opportunities to engage, to participate in clubs, activities, and sports, learn in a properly sized class, and have a robust high school experience because we simply do not have room to include them.It is not equitable that students at under-capacity schools do not have as many opportunities to take a full range of courses offered because their staff is smaller due to under-enrollment.It is financially ruinous to throw away the millions of dollars in existing capitol investment in the western part of the county where student seats go unfilled.

Read the full statement here

Vicky Cutroneo:

I believe that solutions to over crowding and uneven capacity utilization should be curative in nature and should take into account the bigger and long term development picture.   Board Members must be a visible presence both in the George Howard Building and in Annapolis, advocating for infrastructure funding.  I have already begun lobbying for developer fee legislation, and will continue to proactively advocate for safe and healthy learning environments for ALL students and staff.

Read the full statement here

I have not reached out to anyone in the school or any current Board of Education member as of yet…I am going to see how things play out and possibly talk to additional folks in the future…especially once it looks like one of the options will be chosen.

Stay tuned folks…this is a serious topic to follow going forward. If you have thoughts or comments, let me know in the comments on the blog or on Facebook.

Scott E


  1. Or as parents we can choose to pull our children out of the disaster which is HCPSS and homeschool or pay for private school. I’m disappointed with the system and I’m disappointed with the test prep curriculum. I can’t wait until child #1 graduates out of Howard High and child #2 (along with a lot of his friends) will be attending private school.


  2. “Option 6 – 9th grade academy” is a way to table redistricting until the new high school is built (as promised with the Jumpstart program). We have family in another state whose school district is built around schools with fewer age groups and it has many benefits! It’s nice for the youngest kids to not be in the same building as the oldest kids – relieves some peer pressure, academic pressure, athletic pressure and allows the staff to focus on the specific needs of that age group. It would be nice for kids to have the opportunity to get to know other students throughout the county in ways beyond club sports or religious school.


  3. Redistricting, aka “boundary adjustments”, is clearly the most effective way to resolve this problem. The creative solutions are merely a way to say “we tried” without actually solving the problem. This is a problem created by the Board of Education, and it is their job to fix it.


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