Harford’s public schools sees a slight increase in students, overcrowding in elementary schools – Baltimore Sun

Enrollment Decline Leads to Overcrowding at Harford County Public Schools

Despite a lower-than-projected enrollment, elementary schools in Harford County are facing overcrowding issues, as reported to the Board of Education earlier this month.

According to the school system’s estimates, there was an expected increase of 251 students in 2023, bringing the total enrollment to 38,357 students. However, only 39 students were added, bringing the overall enrollment to 38,106 across 53 schools.

The data shows that 17,700 students are enrolled across 34 elementary schools, reaching 91% capacity, with 1,757 available seats. Five county elementary schools, including Bel Air, G. Lisby at Hillsdale, Havre De Grace, Homestead/Wakefield, and Red Pump, are operating above 100% capacity.

This overcrowding issue is attributed to the overall growth in the county, with the population increasing significantly in areas such as Aberdeen and Havre de Grace. This has prompted the school system to request funding for 14 relocatable classrooms as a short-term solution to provide temporary program space.

In addition, the potential growth in Bel Air, including the construction of a 249-unit mixed-use apartment complex planned for the Harford Mall complex, has raised concerns about exacerbating overcrowding in local schools. Residents are voicing opposition to the development, citing concerns about the impact on already crowded schools.

Historically, Harford County experienced a population growth of over 6.6% from 2010 to 2020, contributing to the strain on school capacity. Additionally, a study conducted by the Maryland State Department of Education found that Harford County had the largest average class size in the state during the 2021-22 school year, exceeding the current capacity limits outlined in state law.

As part of the school system’s long-term plan, a new elementary school is under construction to replace the overcapacity Homestead/Wakefield Elementary, with the goal of opening in fall 2025. Redistricting for elementary schools has been deferred until the opening of a new combination special education and elementary school in the fall of 2026.

Ultimately, with projections showing continued growth in enrollment, it is clear that proactive measures are necessary to address the persistent issue of overcrowding in Harford County Public Schools.

As of 2020, Harford County had over 260,000 residents, with significant growth in areas such as Aberdeen and Havre de Grace. This population increase has contributed to the strain on school capacity and led to concerns about overcrowding in local schools, prompting the school system to request funding for temporary solutions. This issue has sparked discussions about long-term plans to address enrollment growth and alleviate overcrowding in Harford County Public Schools.

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