Howard County State Legislators File Local Bills to Support School Redistricting
Howard County, MD – October 21, 2019– Senator Clarence Lam and Delegate Terri Hill filed bills with the Howard County Delegation today in an effort to facilitate the Howard County Public School System’s (HCPSS) school boundary review process (also known as “school redistricting”).
Senator Lam has introduced HoCo 01-20, which aims to reduce overcrowded county schools by requiring the Board of Education to initiate the school boundary review process when school capacity falls outside of target utilization (90-110%) or report to the Delegation on a plan to address over and under-utilized schools.
Delegate Hill has filed a bill (HoCo 06-20) aimed at facilitating effective tracking of the county’s progress in addressing academic achievement gaps based on socioeconomic and limited English proficiency disparities.
“School redistricting is necessary and is best done periodically. Inadequate redistricting in the past has exacerbated our current capacity issues,” said Senator Lam. “It is unacceptable that some high schools are at 136% capacity when others have empty seats and are at only 82% capacity. HoCo 01-20 is aimed at helping to address these capacity imbalances in our school system.”
“If we are sincere in our desire to assure that every single student is given the best shot possible of receiving a world class education—an education that will equip them to be successful adults and to graduate career and college ready from HCPSS, we’re obligated to not only put the correct metrics in place for evaluation of our process and our progress, but also to use them,” explained Delegate Hill.
HCPSS’s policy on school redistricting (Policy 6010) sets a target utilization for schools of 90-110% capacity and establishes criteria that should be considered as part of the redistricting process. HoCo 01-20 directs the Board of Education, when schools are outside of the target utilization, to initiate the school boundary review process in accordance with Policy 6010 or report back to the Howard County Delegation with a plan to bring schools in compliance with Policy 6010.
“Because the state provides a substantial amount of capital funding for school construction, we have a responsibility to ensure that this money is spent efficiently and that seats generated from state funding are filled,” said Senator Lam. ” School redistricting is necessary because we can’t simply solve our capacity imbalances by building new schools when others have empty seats—that’s just not sustainable.”
HoCo 06-20 attempts to address inequities in the rate of students who participate in the free and reduced meals (FARMs) program across schools in HCPSS, a measure that was highlighted as a priority in HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano’s recent redistricting proposal. The legislation will require the Board of Education to submit an annual report on the number of students in each school who are limited English proficient or receive FARMs. Every two years, the Board of Education must also report to the Howard County Delegation on activities aimed at reducing the academic disparities of these two populations over the past two years and include prospective plans to reduce academic disparities for the next two subsequent years.
“It’s clear that disparities in academic achievement remain,” said Delegate Hill, “and based on the best social science information available, strategies directed at academic achievement disparities related to income and to English language proficiency are likely to be the most impactful and succeed in producing the desired result of narrowing—and even closing—the gaps across all categories, including parental education, disabilities, and race. HoCo 06-20 will help ensure that HCPSS will continue to implement measures to do so.”
The Howard County Delegation has scheduled a public hearing on these and all local bills beginning at 7:00pm on November 19, 2019 at the George Howard Building.
See the post made on social media and the images of the wording of the legislation here:
Now the big question is…with this possible legislation coming forward in the future…how will this affect the redistricting process happening right now in Howard County?
More to come on this topic in the future when I get more time to review everything in it.