The most effective, least disruptive, way to address overcrowding is to build more schools. Now that a site has been chosen for high school #13, let’s expedite the selection of a site in Elkridge for high school #14 and get serious about building both schools as soon as possible. Marriott’s Ridge was built in 18 months so we know what’s possible if the will exists. I’d want to blend the building of new schools with strategic redistricting that addresses current overcrowding while anticipating future growth.
Any redistricting should be done in the most targeted and limited way possible to minimize disruption to students. I’d start with drawing the lines for HS #13, and then focus the more immediate redistricting on areas not slated to be moved to the new school, to ensure that the same neighborhoods are not moved twice. I would also have the redistricting apply beginning with the rising 9th graders, who will already be at a natural transition point, rather than disrupting kids already settled in their high schools
The ideas above noted, we do not have enough data to make an informed decision about an appropriate plan of action. Community input is critical but it must be supplemented with data to back up any decisions we make.
Lastly, I’d encourage the Board to learn about efforts that have worked in other parts of the country to address overcrowding, as this problem is not unique to Howard County. For example, we might consider developing specialized academies in schools with excess capacity—e.g., around STEM, the arts, or coding—to draw interested students from overcrowded schools.