Howard Co. school boundary changes approved; more than 5,000 students to move

The Howard County Board of Education approved changes to several school boundaries around the Maryland county. Those changes are set to take effect next fall.

In all about 5,400 — nearly 10% — of the students in Howard County will see themselves moved into other schools beginning next year. It’s a smaller number than initial plans had called for, but not as limiting as opponents of the plan had hoped for.

The changes were meant to reduce capacity in some schools while boosting enrollment in schools that were under-enrolled. When the changes take effect, 51% of schools will be within 90-110% capacity, compared to the 42% of schools that currently reach that capacity. Many of the most overcrowded schools will see relief, according to a news release from the school system.

The board of education focused on socioeconomic data to implement the changes.

The school system said 22.5% of students countywide are on free and reduced meal plans. Dozens of schools with a higher than average number of those students are going to see some declines — though in most cases it will only be a subtle reduction.

It was also noted that four schools that have less than the average number of students on free and reduced meal plans will see an increase in the number of kids enrolled in that program.

The schools that are impacted and the exact neighborhoods that are affected can be found through the Howard County Board of Education’s website. 

They include Bellows Spring, Waterloo, Bryant Woods, Longfellow, Swansfield and Clemens Crossing elementary schools, among others.

Of the 5,400 students, most are at the elementary and high school level. Students going into the senior year of their high school will not have to move schools even if where they live was affected by the change. The same goes for students going into fifth and eighth grades.

School system leaders will plan for staffing reallocation over the next several months.

“Our curriculum and materials are consistent across the school system and students have access to comparable opportunities at every school in our system,” said the school board.

Students and parents will have multiple opportunities to visit the school and meet staff before the beginning of the next school year.

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