ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ) — The Howard County Board of Education voted Thursday to revise Howard County Public School System school attendance areas for the 2020–2021 school year.

The meeting lasted about four and a half hours as the board went through each individual polygon, or neighborhood, and passed all but one of its motions.

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The decision to adjust school boundaries was prompted by the need to relieve crowded schools, more effectively balance capacity utilization among schools throughout the district, and address inequities in the distribution of students affected by poverty, school officials say.

“We teach our children to compromise and this is the compromise that we made tonight for all our children,” a member of the Howard County School Board said.

When the redistricting plan goes into effect in the 2020-2021 school year, 5,402 students will be moved to a new school, including:

  • 2,827 at the elementary school level,
  • 568 at the middle school level, and
  • 2,007 at the high school level.

The only motion not to pass involves polygon 189. All students at Clarksville Middle School will not be reassigned.

Not all board members were in agreement with this new plan, however.

“The redistricting process is broken, and I believe we failed our students and our parents and our community,” Howard County School Board member Christina Delmont-Small said. “We could have done better.”

There are several exemptions. Rising fifth and eighth-graders can opt-out of moving schools, as well as rising high school juniors and seniors.

“Now that we know what schools our students will attend next year, we must articulate our needs to families, partners, and elected leaders so that we are able to provide individualized support for every student and fully demonstrate equity in action,” Howard County School Board Superintended Michael Martirano said.

Many parents in attendance expressed disappointment over the board’s decision, pointing to ling commutes and difficult transitions from one school to another.

“Do you think it’s reasonable for a high schooler to get up that early, go to school, and then sit on the bus again for another 45 minutes?” Sharad Bhargava, a parent, said.

Martirano says he’ll be meeting with all of the county’s principals so that they can help students and families make this as smooth a transition as possible.

Rachel Menitoff

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