BCPS addresses school overcrowding
Residents and stakeholders from across the area gathered at Dundalk High School earlier this month to discuss the issue of overcrowding in Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).
The forum, the third such meeting countywide, was conducted by the Sage Group consulting on behalf of BCPS. The event included a gallery walk of various potential solutions to the problem of overcrowding in public high schools.
In the next 10 years, BCPS is projected to face a shortage of 1,700 seats.
“The point of this gallery walk is to figure out how do we deal with the capacity issue in a way that’s in the best interest of the students, their families, taxpayers and other stakeholders,” Sage Group representative Anirban Basu told the assembled group.
Sage Group officials presented seven scenarios with solutions to end the overcrowding issue. Attendees were asked to consider the options and complete a survey so BCPS can incorporate their input.
“There are people here waiting to write down what you have to say; your input, your feedback,” Basu noted.
Once the study team collects everyone’s statements, he explained, potential solutions will be created based on their input.
Scenario 1: Use Existing Seats
This scenario prioritizes use of existing capacity at comprehensive schools that are projected to have less enrollment than their school’s State Rated Capacity (SRC), but only to a degree.
Scenario 2: Use Existing Seats Aggressively
This scenario minimizes the cost of increasing capacity through new construction (replacements or additions) by fully using existing school capacity at schools with less enrollment than their school’s State Rated Capacity (SRC).
Scenario 3: Just Build It
This scenario minimizes boundary changes by building additional capacity through additions to schools that are projected to be over 110% capacity.
Scenario 4: Magnets on the Move
This scenario uses a strategy of moving programs, such as ESOL and magnet programs, from schools that are projected to be over 110% capacity to schools that are projected to have less enrollment than their school’s State Rated Capacity (SRC).
Scenario 5: Toward “Optimal” School Size
This scenario prioritizes a maximum school capacity of 1,700 for schools that are receiving additions or replacement schools to increase their capacity. Existing schools whose capacity currently exceeds 1700 would not be subject to capacity reductions.
Scenario 6: Building Magnets
This scenario prioritizes countywide equity in access to Magnet programs and quality of magnet facilities by increasing magnet schools’ capacity countywide through replacement schools.
Scenario 7: The FY2019 Capital Plan
This scenario prioritizes the FY2019 capital plan. Interm BCPS Superintendent Verletta White released a statement on the capacity study and discussions, saying that more public information sessions will be held in September and October.
“As we begin to develop the foundation for a plan to meet our ever growing high school population, it is important that we hear from stakeholders from across our system,” said White. “I am pleased that Sage quickly summarized the key themes that have emerged from the focus groups and public information sessions. We are committed to using this feedback to shape the remainder of the study.
White’s letter also called for improved instructional opportunities for students which includes the expanding magnet programs. This would provide an opportunity to improve instructional programs and to provide more equitable opportunities for our students while potentially limiting the number of boundaries that would need to be changed, she said.
The southeast area of the county is facing serious overcrowding issues that will only get worse if no action in taken, according to projections. The area schools most affected by these issues are Parkville and Perry Hall High Schools. Perry Hall currently has a 97.82% utilization but this number is expected to jump to 101.09% by 2019, or Year 2. This growth will continue until Year 10, 2027, which has a projected enrollment of over 121%. Parkville mirrors this an a predicted enrollment of 117.72%.
Other high schools, such as Eastern Technical and Kenwood High School currently sit below capacity and are predicted to remain that way for several school years.
Projected enrollments for BCPS has the school system gaining over 6,000 new students from 2017 to 2027.
According to Banu, scenarios may not seem reasonable but BCPS must ensure that every student has a seat.
“I’m not happy about the schools being overcrowded because that means the kids suffer,” Christine Laster, mother of a Dundalk High School student, said, adding, “Which means that as more students come to the school, there’s not going to be enough space and teach- ers to meet the students needs.”
“Education is important, especially now because you need a college degree in order to be something,” she noted.
In September, after a review of the surveys is completed, the Sage Group will host another informational forum with modified potential scenarios.
“It’s important to get input from the community so we can incorporate these thoughts in whatever we decide to do,” McDaniel said.
This study is supported by the Board of Education of Baltimore County, Baltimore County Government, and Maryland legislators from Baltimore County.
For more information and a breakdown of enrollment numbers in BCPS, visit www.bcps.org/system/ high- school- capacity- study. html.
Sage Group representative Anirban Banu presented potential plans for high school overcrowding at Dundalk High School last Tuesday.