Towson High School has a state-rated capacity of 1,260 students, but currently enrolls 1,619 students, according to the latest numbers published by Baltimore County Public Schools, meaning students are crowded into classrooms and nearly a dozen trailers outside the main building.
The overcrowding at Towson High — now nearly 129% capacity — has been “severe for the past few years,” said County Councilman David Marks, a Republican who represents the area.
"The high school is not going to be rebuilt any time soon,” Marks said. “The students and parents at Towson High School deserve to know what options are out there for dealing with this overcrowding.”
Marks said he does not have the answers when it comes to relieving the overcrowding.
In late February, he sent a letter to Board of Education Chair Kathleen Causey and Vice Chair Julie Henn, asking the board to discuss redistricting scenarios. In the letter, he noted he had tried reaching out to Superintendent Darryl Williams, but had no received a response.
Henn, who represents the school board district that includes Towson High, said projections continue to show the school will need more seats, as will other schools in the central Baltimore County area. She also’s requested that a discussion about short- and long-term solutions be added to the agenda of a future board meeting.
“We need a capital plan, yes, we need construction,” Henn said. “But we need to do something in the shorter term.”
Two members of the Towson High School PTSA said they think something needs to happen to relieve crowding at the school, but added that they aren’t sure what the solution is.
“Any temporary, or short-term solution is not optimal,” said Greg Dildine, one of the PTSA’s vice presidents.
Any move the school system and the county make to address crowding should be more comprehensive, he said.
Already, staff said in the document, the way space is used inside the building has been modified, and relocatable units — or trailers — have been used at the school. The document outlines options for the high school, including continuing to use relocatable units, re-configuring singular units into a multi-unit structure, redistricting with adjacent schools that have capacity and temporarily annexing students to other schools.
“It may be 10 years at the earliest until any seats are built to address Towson High’s current over capacity, much less its future projected overcrowding,” the document reads.
The school system projects that, with no changes to where school boundaries are now, Towson High will be at 161%, or 768 students over its capacity by fall 2028.
Limited redistricting or annexation could be complicated. While multiple schools adjacent to Towson High are below capacity, there is not enough extra capacity in the region to completely relieve the crowding.
Pikesville High School is only 84 students below capacity; Dulaney High is 70 students below capacity and lacks permanent air conditioning; Parkville High is 37 students over capacity and Loch Raven High is 101 students under capacity. Towson High is about 360 students over capacity, so even a redistricting involving all the adjacent schools with available capacity would leave one or multiple schools above capacity.
Marks said it probably wouldn’t be popular with parents, but a potential solution would be creating a local catchment zone to move some students from Towson High to Carver Center for Arts and Technology, a magnet school in Towson that is about 70 students under capacity.
Brandon Oland, a spokesman for the school system, confirmed in an email that the school system was not currently working on any of the short- or mid-range solutions referenced in the capital budget document.