Howard County Public School System reports slightly higher student enrollment; enrollment remains below 2018 levels

At the Howard County Board of Education meeting on September 2nd the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano reported the following:

Student Enrollment

• I’m pleased to note that our enrollment continues to increase. As of today, September 2nd, a total of 57,619 students are enrolled, including 25,457 elementary, 13,429 middle school, 18,406 high school and 327 students who participate in our infants and toddlers, community connections and other programs.

Looking at these numbers compared to previous annual enrollment numbers reported by HCPSS:

Some interesting facts about enrollment numbers reported by HCPSS on September 2nd:

  • 57,619 reported so far in 2021
  • 2021 reported enrollment is 326 higher than September of 2020 (and 219 higher than reported in May 2021)
  • 2021 reported enrollment is 1,249 lower than September 2019
  • 2021 reported enrollment is 288 lower than September 2018

I also thought I would go back and look at the approved FY22 budget to see what the enrollment expectations were in the budget document. Noted on pages 19 & 20:

Enrollment and FY 2022 Budgeted Expenditures 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 FY 2022 Approved Budget was developed based on a 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)1, of which 380 is an increase for Grades K-12.

Note: I bolded the number I was looking for in the document.

The reported enrollment number of 57,619 is 2,474 less that the projected number noted in the budget document.

The thing the numbers tell me is that the school system did not have vast majority students re-enroll or the normal trend of enrollment growth resume to start this school year. This may be because of the Delta Variant of COVID-19, the mandatory mask mandate or a combination of both. This could also be due to parents choosing to stick with decisions made a year ago during the COVID-19 pandemic (switching to home schooling, private schooling or other education choices for students).

The reason enrollment numbers are so important is that enrollment is directly tied to funding for the school system.

The school system got a big increase in funding in the FY22 budget even with the lower enrollment numbers:

One has to wonder about the budget for next year if the enrollment numbers do not take the kind of bounce expected this budget cycle.

I will keep an eye out for the “official” September 2021 enrollment numbers (I am guessing that will come out in early / mid October) and will provide an update here on the blog.

Scott E

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s