Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) has contracted with FLO Analytics to conduct a system-wide school boundary review. This review is due to an increase in enrollment and special program needs over the past five years (2015-2019). These increases have resulted in overcrowding at some schools, while others are underutilized. Throughout the process, HCPS will request input from the parents/guardians, students, staff, community, and other stakeholders.
The boundary review process is necessary to optimize facility utilization, or more simply, to make sure our buildings are being used to serve students in the best way possible. It is anticipated that the boundary review will take approximately 9 months. At the conclusion of the 9 months, the results and recommendations will be presented to the Superintendent. At that time, the Superintendent will hold public hearings and will subsequently make the Superintendent’s recommendation to the Board of Education. We anticipate this will occur in the fall of 2021. The Board of Education will continue to engage the public through February of 2022 prior to reaching a final decision on boundary adjustments. We anticipate the approved adjustments will go into effect for the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
Our top priority is to make boundary adjustments equitable and focus on students’ success. Your input and participation from the beginning of the process are essential and necessary to ensure the success of this review. Please continue to remain engaged and check back for regular updates here
With the goal of supporting long-term balanced enrollment and sustainable facility usage for the 2022-23 school year and beyond, the Advisory Team is charged with reviewing and giving input to proposed updates to boundary area, school grade, programmatic, and facilities usage reconfigurations for the 2022-23 school year and beyond. The Advisory Team’s assessment and analysis will include:
Click here for the Guiding Principles approved by the Harford County Board of Education on December 21, 2020
Parent representatives from PTAs have volunteered from each of the following attendance areas. Volunteers have a mix of elementary, middle, and high school students within the Harford County Public Schools system.
Content area specialists provide support and guidance to the options development team. Content specialists will participate in all Advisory Team meetings and provide critical information about their area of expertise as needed in the options development process. Enables oversight to ensure options chosen will meet the needs and desired outcomes of the district.
The Balancing Enrollment web map allows the community to view the current boundary adjustment scenarios being evaluated by the Advisory Team. Currently, the map only shows scenarios for elementary schools. This information is subject to change throughout the planning process. This web map contains existing boundaries and will be updated with boundary revision options as the committee process progresses. Please note, the Advisory Team will be reviewing the middle school and high school boundaries in the coming months and that data will be added to the map at that time.
Click the map below to access the HCPS Balancing Enrollment Web Map.
Community Education Forums are set up to allow the community the opportunity to view proposed boundary adjustment scenarios and ask questions. For one week following each meeting, an exit survey will be available on our website to contribute feedback on the boundary scenarios being discussed. The two meetings, listed below, are the initial meetings as part of the assessment process. The community will have several additional opportunities to review and comment on the proposed boundary adjustments. The Superintendent will also hold public hearings prior to making a recommendation to the Board of Education in September 2021. The Board of Education will continue to hear public comments from September through February of 2022.
1. Q: Why is Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) reviewing school boundaries?
1. A: We are reviewing school boundaries due to an increase in enrollment and special program needs over the past five years (2015-2019). These increases have resulted in overcrowding at some schools, while others are underutilized. The boundary review process is necessary to optimize facility utilization, or more simply, to make sure our buildings are being used to serve students in the best way possible.
2. Q: How are the boundaries being reviewed?
2. A: We are partnering with FLO Analytics to provide HCPS with boundary review services. FLO Analytics has been contracted to lead the boundary review and community engagement process that will result in recommendations that will guide the planning and implementation of reconfigured attendance areas. FLO Analytics has taken current and future enrollment, future residential development data, and a set of guiding principles into consideration to develop and present “Springboard Proposals” to the Advisory Team. This Springboard Proposal is a starting place for the Advisory Team, who will work to refine the options presented using on-the-fly modeling capabilities. The Advisory Team will also consider feedback from the public at two community input forums and revise the boundary options accordingly.
3. Q: Who is on the Advisory Team and how were they selected?
3. A: The Advisory Team consists of parents of elementary, middle, and/or high students, principals, county planners, and central office leadership staff. Parent/guardian members were randomly selected after expressing interest through their school’s PTA. One parent/guardian representative for each attendance area within the County was selected. The Advisory Team was designed to balance perspectives from various schools.
4. Q: When do the boundaries take effect?
4. A: The new attendance boundaries will likely take effect in September 2022, but the School Board must formally adopt the transition plan and timelines for new attendance boundaries. A transition timeline will be recommended by the Superintendent after boundary adjustments are recommended by the Advisory Team.
5. Q: Will there be the possibility of a "grandfather" provision for some students so they will not have to change boundaries based on specific situations?
5. A: Once the boundary modifications are identified, implementation options will be evaluated based on multiple factors such as facility capacities, number of impacted students, and transportation. An implementation recommendation will be presented to the Board of Education for approval.
6. Q: When will the final decision be made public?
6. A: The Board will make their final decision in February 2022 and develop an implementation plan.
7. Q: What are the Guiding Principles?
7. A: Guiding principles are the set of values that guide research, thinking, and decision making in this complex and multi-faceted process. The guiding principles are derived from HCPS policies, insights gained from HCPS leadership, Board of Education members, student enrollment forecasting, and best practice from across the country.
8. Q: Is HCPS considering the impact to property values during this process?
8. A: Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) strives to ensure all schools offer the same high-quality education to all students. Balancing enrollment across the district is intended to result in a more efficient and equitable delivery of the educational program. Property values are not a factor in developing educational programs to student and as such are not a criterion in the Board of Education approved Guiding Principles or any other policy for balancing enrollment.
The Harford County Government Department of Planning and Zoning (P&Z) analyzed County home values by zip code based on the Zillow home value index. They found that the trend for home values is increasing across the county regardless of the present school assignments. However, since the school assignment is only one of many factors that influence home value, it is not possible to say if a boundary change will have a direct impact on home values.
9. Q: How will staffing decisions be made with boundary adjustments? Will staffing be added as programs are added?
9. A: In general, teachers, administrators, and other instructional staff are allocated to schools based upon the programs offered at the school and student enrollment. Once boundary adjustments are approved by the Board of Education, staffing will be adjusted based on the revised forecast. Staffing for each school is re-evaluated every year and adjustments are made to reflect program and enrollment changes.
10. Q: How do the boundary changes affect class size?
10. A: The goal is to keep classrooms at or under the state recommended maximum class size while ensuring enough space at each school for students in specialized programs (Pre-K/Special Education).
11. Q: What data are you using for the balancing enrollment process?
12. Q: Why is the Homestead Wakefield Elementary School Capacity changing?
12. A: The scope study for the Homestead Wakefield project was approved by the Board of Education on December 21, 2020. The scope study provided a general capacity for the replacement school. HCPS is currently developing the Educational Specification document for the replacement school. This document clearly outlines the educational spaces needed and the requirements of those spaces. Through this process, HCPS has been able to refine the facility capacity for general education, special education, and Pre-k based on program needs. Any adjustments through this process have been incorporated into the balancing enrollment process.
13. Q: Do parents have the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed boundary changes?
13. A: Yes, there are multiple stages in the process and the public are encouraged to provide feedback at each stage. If you are interested in participating, we encourage you to register for HCPS community outreach to ensure that you receive all public communication about the balancing enrollment initiative and other HCPS important announcements as we move forward in the process. To register click here for Parents or here for Community Members. Please note, by registering here, you will receive communications on all topics related to HCPS, including balancing enrollment updates.
Assessment (January 2021 – June 2021): The Advisory Team will hold public forums to hear public feedback on the proposed scenarios. The public forums are scheduled for April 14, 2021 for elementary school boundary discussions and June 2, 2021 for middle and high school boundary discussions.
Superintendent (July 2021 – September 2021): The superintendent will hold public hearings to listen to community concerns and make adjustment prior to making his recommendation to the Board of Education in September of 2021.
Board of Education (September 2021 – February 2022): The Board of Education will hold public hearings and make any modification prior to making a final decision February of 2022.
14. Q: When will the public be able to view the boundary changes?
14. A: Scenarios are posted on our webpage as they are developed for public review. As iterations are posted, HCPS will send out public announcement and provide information about how to comment on and express concerns about the scenario. The feedback collected will be provided to the Advisory Team to analyze and continue to refine the proposed boundary adjustment scenario.
15. Q: Why was there a phone survey and who received the phone survey?
15. A: FLO Analytics had Critical Data, a survey firm, contact households in the HCPS School District between January 5, 2021 and February 26, 2021. The survey firm completed 640 one-on-one executive-style telephone interviews to get statistically significant and proportionately representative community feedback from parents/guardians across the district. HCPS also made their own communication to all families to make them aware of the external survey and provided an online survey link to families with survey questions and received over 4,000 responses. This feedback is integral to aid in the Advisory Team’s decision-making process by elevating our communities’ values.
16. Q: Why are you starting this process during the COVID-19 pandemic?
16. A: While the Advisory Team portion of this process started during the pandemic, the planning, funding, and contracting portion of the project was in progress prior to the pandemic. As students return to school, HCPS is facing the same capacity issues impacting class sizes and staffing decisions. Additionally, it is essential that HCPS continues to plan for and is prepared to meet the future needs of our students. This process will assist HCPS in the facilities planning to ensure our school buildings are best serving the needs of students.
17. Q: What impact will the Virtual Program from Home (eLearning) have on the schools that are over capacity?
17. A: Registration for the virtual school option starting in the 21/22 school year is currently open. In June of 2021, we will evaluate the enrollment data for that program and the potential impacts to our analysis.
18. Q: How is the decrease in enrollment due to COVID-19 being included in the balancing enrollment process?
18. A: The student forecasting data used for the balancing enrollment process is based on the 2019 enrollment, birth rates, and succession ratios. While overall enrollment decreased for the 2020/21 school year due to COVID-19, the county Adequate Public Facility (APF) ordinance moratorium remains in place for three (3) elementary schools (Bel Air, Homestead/Wakefield, and Havre de Grace) and one (1) middle school (Bel Air). As we move into the 2021/22 school year, we will re-evaluate the enrollment numbers. Any discrepancies in trends and the balancing enrollment process will be provided to the superintendent and the Board of Education for use in developing and approving final boundary adjustments.
19. Q: Will transportation time and walking distance be considered in this plan?
19. A: Yes. The Advisory Team will consider existing walking paths and infrastructure, and HCPS' Transportation Director is serving as a Content Specialist to the Advisory Team, weighing in on any impacts to bus routes.
20. Q: How are transportation times and routes considered when evaluating potential change options?
20. A: Due to the preliminary nature of the current proposed boundary scenarios, specific bus route information is not available. At this point in the process, transportation has reviewed the potential boundary adjustments from two perspectives.
If boundary adjustments are approved by the Board of Education (February 2022), student routing will occur.
21. Q: How will new transportation routes be developed?
21. A: All bus routes will follow established routing guidelines (under non-emergency circumstances) including, but not limited to, the following.
Exceptions to the existing guidelines are reviewed and approved by a supervisor. Community members should reach out directly to the transportation office with any specific routing concerns. It is important to note, bus routes are subject to change at any time to maximize efficiency and address operational considerations.
22. Q: How will parents be notified of the potential changes to bus drop-off and pick-up times once the plan is final?
22. A: Prior to the implementation school year, the HCPS Communication Office will execute a multi-media communication plan to help prepare the community for any changes. At that time, parents and guardians will be advised that HCPS bus stops, and schedules may be impacted by the boundary adjustments and that all bus routing information can be found on the HCPS bus locator link on the HCPS website or contact the school for updated information.
23. Q: Will growth and development be considered in the plan? What data will be used?
23. A: HCPS has developed enrollment projections based on grade progression trends and birth rates in accordance with the Maryland Department of Planning’s state-wide enrollment projection guidelines. Consultants at FLO Analytics collected and compiled data from federal, state, and local municipalities including zoning information, land-use laws, and current residential development permits and conducted interviews with county and city planners to develop residential growth expectations for the future. The land-use information is then integrated into the HCPS enrollment projections.
24. Q: Is HCPS coordinating with the people who make decisions about development in Harford County?
24. A: HCPS works with the Harford County Government Department of Planning and Zoning (P&Z) throughout the year to ensure the county Adequate Public Facilities (APF) law is implemented. This law regulates land development and requires the existing public facilities for water, sewer, schools, and roads be adequate to support the planned land development. This ordinance is a part of the county subdivision code.
When it comes to schools, preliminary plans for subdivisions of greater than five lots cannot be approved in school districts where the full-time enrollment currently exceeds, or is projected to exceed, 110% capacity within three (3) years. This task is accomplished by monitoring developments by school district and monitoring school enrollment. The same information is a factor in school enrollment forecasts and the modeling for the attendance boundary evaluation underway.
When schools become overcrowded, P&Z will close the attendance area to new subdivision proposals for that school. The school may remain overcrowded but new subdivisions will not be approved. The system is not exact. For example, a subdivision which was approved before a school exceeded 110% capacity may continue to produce new houses after enrollment has exceeded 110%. Unlike other counties in Maryland, the prohibition is indefinite, and P&Z cannot require HCPS build new schools due to overcapacity or change attendance boundaries. It is not the intention of HCPS to leave schools overcrowded so new development will not proceed.
25. Q: Why can't HCPS just add portable or relocatable classrooms to overcrowded schools?
25. A: The State Rated Capacity (SRC) of a school is calculated by Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) according to the Code of Maryland Regulation (COMAR) 23.03.02.04A. According to this regulation, neither State nor locally owned relocatable classrooms are counted towards a school’s capacity. The SRC is calculated based on permanent instructional spaces. The Harford County Government Adequate Public Facility (APF) ordinance is written based on the SRC of a school. Therefore, adding portable or relocatable classrooms will not remove the APF restriction in that attendance area.
Additionally, while portable or relocatable classrooms can provide temporary relief for overcrowded schools, it does not resolve all the capacity issues within a school building. Common spaces within schools, such as the cafeteria, are designed to serve a specific student population. Adding portable or relocatable classrooms does not provide relief within these spaces and resulting scheduling adjustments are not advantageous for students.
26. Q: Can HCPS build an addition to the facilities over capacity?
26. A: The answer to this question is multi-layered. Through the balancing enrollment process, HCPS is looking at all potential solutions. However, we must also be good stewards with taxpayer funding. Our school system receives local and State funding each year. Funding includes the operating funding (salaries, building operation, teaching materials, etc.) and capital funding (construction projects, infrastructure upgrades, etc.). The decision to add capacity to a facility not only impacts the capital budget with the upfront cost of construction but also the long-term cost of operating the school.
The current County administration has committed to funding one major capital project at a time. Each project takes approximately two (2) years to complete. Based on that timeline, HCPS has developed a Capital Improvement Program (CIP) prioritizing the facilities with the highest needs.
Major capital projects are also partially State funded. The amount of State funding is directly related to enrollment and capacity at the requested school and adjacent schools. This is to ensure school districts are utilizing the existing schools to the maximum capacity before funding projects to add capacity.
The balancing enrollment process will help to determine if there is a need to add capacity to our school system with additions and/or new schools. If it is determined there is a need, the balancing enrollment process will also help to prioritize the capacity projects with our funding outlook and other facility needs.
UPDATE: JUNE 16, 2021
The following message will be sent via phone, email, and text to all contacts in our mass communication system at 10:00 a.m.
On Tuesday, June 15, Governor Hogan announced that the state of emergency and mask mandate will be lifted effective July 1 for the state of Maryland. As of July 1, Harford County Public Schools will adhere to the Governor’s announcement and will remove the mask mandate in all HCPS schools and offices. This means that for all in-person summer school instruction and summer programs, students, and staff, will not be required to wear masks as of July 1. If you would like your child to continue wearing a mask in school, please instruct your child to do so. In addition, for the 4th of July events that occur after July 1, students and chaperones may choose to wear masks, but HCPS will not require masks during 4th of July events occurring after July 1. Participants will still need to follow any parade committee guidelines. We expect to begin the 2021-2022 school year without masks. We will continue to dialogue with the Harford County Health Department, as well as review CDC and MSDE guidance around schools and best practice response to COVID-19 throughout the summer. We hope you have a wonderful summer.
UPDATE: JUNE 15, 2021
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF HARFORD COUNTY
NOTICE OF PUBLIC COMMENT PARTICIPATION
BUSINESS MEETING – JUNE 21, 2021 – 6:30PM
The Board of Education of Harford County Business Meeting will be held on June 21, 2021 at 6:30PM with only Board Members, staff, and presenters in attendance virtually. The meeting will be streamed live and archived for later viewing on the HCPS Website.
Public Comment Participation Call-In Process
Community members who wish to provide comments during the Public Comments segment of the Business meeting are required to register by completing this form Public Comment Registration Form, https://www.hcps.org/boe/publiccommentrequest.aspx
Registrations must be received by 9:00AM on Monday, June 21, 2021. All fields on the registration form must be completed.
First and Last name
1. Registered speakers will receive an email from HCPS with a Call-in Phone # and a Conference ID #.
2. Registered speakers are required to call-in and enter the conference ID# at 6:30PM on Monday, June 21, 2021.
3. Important: If you are unable to take your phone off mute, you may need to dial *6.
4. All speakers, regardless of affiliation, will receive 3-minutes per speaker. Speakers may be interrupted and be given notice when they have 30 seconds left. When speakers have reached their 3-minute mark, callers will be removed from the meeting.
5. The Board has allotted two-hours for the Public Comments segment of the Business meeting.
6. If you are admitted from the virtual lobby to the meeting within the two-hour time constraint, you will be placed on hold and greeted by an HCPS staff member when it is time to begin your public comment. Expected hold time may vary based on number of registered speakers. The maximum wait time in the lobby is 30 minutes; should you be disconnected please call back.
7. Registration forms are limited to one (1) per person.
8. In accordance with Board policy, if the number of speakers impede the ability of the Board to complete scheduled business, the Board reserves the right to reduce the amount of time allotted per speaker, or overall time allotted for public comment.
9. The Board expects that all comments will be submitted with the decorum and respect appropriate to the conduct of public business.
10. Topics such as personnel matters, pending appeals, specific student disciplinary matters or which constitute commercial solicitations are not permitted.
11. Disparaging comments, personal attacks, and inflammatory remarks about specific schools or personnel are not permitted. Speakers who engage in these comments will be reminded of the rules and the Board reserves the right to remove the speaker from the call.
12. All public comments submitted will be part of the records maintained by the Board office.
Speakers are reminded that public comments are considered public information and, as such, are subject to the Maryland Public Information Act.
UPDATE: JUNE 15, 2021
This message is being sent to all parents and guardians with a student entering 12th grade in the 2021-22 school year. The information will be sent via our mass communication system phone, email, and text, at 5:00 p.m.
Harford Community College (HCC) and Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) invite students entering 12th grade in the 2021-2022 school year to join HCC for one of two virtual events on July 20, 2021 from 10:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or on July 21, 2021 from 5-7:30 p.m. The virtual event will highlight dual enrollment opportunities at HCC for the 2021-22 school year.
Students, parents, and guardians are welcome to attend. You will hear what it’s like to be a dual enrolled student from students currently enrolled. You will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual campus tour and hear about the resources available at HCC, like the learning center, library, and more. In addition, HCC will discuss the multiple apps, study groups, and “how-to’s” like using technology, study groups and more, that will be necessary for dual enrolled students.
Students may register here.
6/16/2021 8:24:06 AM