Howard school board approves adequate public facilities chart

The Howard County school board, in the second vote this month, approved a measure that would determine which school communities are designated as capable of absorbing development.

The panel voted to approve a chart that school officials craft to denote areas ripe for development under the county's Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.

According to APFO guidelines, school capacity must be deemed adequate before approve is given to residential projects, and the pace of such development must match elementary and middle school capacity.

Each year the school board prepares a chart that shows which schools are adequate or inadequate for development by designating them as "open" or "closed." The open/closed chart covers elementary school districts and regions as well as middle school districts for a 10-year period.

If a project is slated for a closed district, it cannot be approved unless the school system builds a new school, places additions onto an existing school or reassigns students through redistricting, school officials said. The County Council adopts its chart concurrently with that of the school board.

The measure requires five votes for passage; board members recently voted 4-3 to adopt the chart, with board member Frank Aquino not present. In voting Tuesday, Aquino cast a vote in favor of the measure for a 5-3 passage, along with board members Sandra French, Ellen Flynn Giles, Janet Siddiqui and student member Tomi Williams.

Board member Brian Meshkin, who on Tuesday repeated calls to change the entire charting process, voted to oppose the measure, along with fellow members Cindy Vaillancourt and Allen Dyer.

Aquino applauded the process, saying that it helps to inform developers about needs that must be addressed. "It doesn't stop development," Aquino said. "It only delays it to make some changes that I think are under consideration."

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