Enrollment numbers for Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) are kind of a big deal…as those numbers drive some funding for our school system. Here in Howard County we saw a big drop in enrollment in 2020 (Howard County Public School System enrollment drops by more than 1,500 students between 2019 and 2020) with a drop of 1,575 students between 2019 and 2020 (Annual reports). The October 2020 report showed a drop in enrollment of 49 students. The November report showed another drop in enrollment of 55 students. The December 2020 report shows a further drop in enrollment of 55 students.

The January 2021 report showed another decrease of 64 students from the previous month. This brings the total of 1,798 students lower than what was reported in September 2019 for HCPSS. This is also 2,289 students less that what was reported in January 2020 (59,359).

Looking at this a little deeper between December 2020 and January 2021:

  • Elementary Schools Enrollment:  Dec: 25,223 | Jan: 25,252 (+29)
  • Middle School Enrollment: Dec: 13,641 | Jan: 13,605 (-36)
  • High School Enrollment: Dec: 18,154 | 18,098 (-56)
  • Special School Enrollment: Dec 116 | Jan: 115 (-1)

The following information about student enrollment projections is in the HCPSS Superintend’s FY22 proposed budget document (page 18 & 19):

“Projected enrollment directly influences budgeted staffing and other educational service levels. HCPSS had experienced steady enrollment growth until the COVID-19 pandemic began in March 2020. FY 2021 student enrollment was projected to increase by about 780 students. However, due to the pandemic, actual enrollment for FY 2021 decreased by 1,576 students. This decrease is an anomaly. In FY 2022, students are projected to re-enroll and the normal trend of enrollment growth is expected to resume.”

“The Superintendent’s Proposed Budget has been developed based on a preliminary projection of 60,093 total students of which 58,522 are Grades K-12. This represents a total increase of 434 in total enrollment above the FY 2021 updated budgeted (59,659), of which 380 is an increase for Grades K-12. These numbers will be updated as necessary when final enrollment projections for FY 2022 are published. It should also be noted that enrollment could spike in FY 2022, if all the un-enrolled students return and normal growth resumes. Should this occur the increase in enrollment could be significantly greater.”

The Howard County School System is scheduled to begin a phased in approach to in-person learning starting March 1st
(Howard County Board of Education Approves Schedule for HCPSS 2020-2021 Hybrid In-Person Model). I will be very interested to see if this upcoming change increases enrollment before the end of this school year.

Scott E


      • I don’t think Scott is stating any hypothesis. Simple “counts” plus or minus, up or down, higher or lower, more or less, cannot be judged without understanding their mathematical universe. Otherwise, “counts” may FEEL inordinately good or bad. positive or negative – when in reality they are a nearly neutral blip. We just can’t know without the analysis and comparison.

  1. Well, I guess we won’t be needing High School 14 anymore…

    My family in the mountain west has had options for full-time in-person public school since fall (MIL is a elementary school teacher who has been working in-class since last fall.) My family in the south has had options for full-time in-person public school since fall. My family in the midwest has has had options for full-time in-person public school since fall. My children have been going to in-person private school here in Maryland since fall (thank god). 5 day-a-week in-person school is happening everywhere else—and the teachers are even living to tell about it! Each of these places have an online option as well.

    But, said it before and I’ll say it again…we have some papered princesses in this county. Just listen to the union boss video last week. Wow. Howard County: you enabled this entitlement and built just the school system you deserve.


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