BCPS ad­dresses school over­crowd­ing

The Avenue News - - FRONT PAGE - cmayo@ches­pub.com By CHAR­LENE MAYO

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.

Sce­nar­ios pre­sented:

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.

CHAR­LENE MAYO

Sage Group rep­re­sen­ta­tive Anir­ban Banu pre­sented po­ten­tial plans for high school over­crowd­ing at Dundalk High School last Tues­day.

COUR­TESY SAGE GROUP

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