Board of Education eases policy on moving to out-of-attendance area schools

As enrollment in Carroll County Public Schools continues to drop, the school system is making it easier for kids to attend schools outside their assigned school.

The Board of Education, at its December meeting, approved revisions to board policy dealing with students wishing to attend schools in out-of-attendance areas.


Schools classified as open have an adjusted capacity enrollment of up to 96 percent, according to Dana Falls, director of Student Services, and a school classified as closed to most students in out-of-attendance areas has an enrollment of 97 percent or higher.

Five schools will be considered closed, he said, noting that the list of those five schools is being reviewed one more time before being released to the public.

A student would have to meet certain criteria in order to move to an out-of-attendance area school classified as closed, Falls said, such as already having a sibling at that school or having a parent employee who works there. It also includes students who don't want to change schools after moving to another part of the county.

But for schools designated as open, movement to a different building is becoming easier.

"Open schools would now be very similar to what we used to have as underpopulated schools," Falls said.

Students with good attendance and academic performance, and without discipline issues, may attend a different school that is classified as open, he said. But in all cases, he added, the student or student's parent must provide transportation.

"We're not going to run buses outside of their assigned routes," Falls said.

Currently, there are 1,161 students attending schools other than their assigned school, he said.

This change opens up a lot of schools, Falls said. Previously, underpopulated schools were considered so if they were at 75 percent of capacity or below. But now, he said, the threshold is bumped up to 96 percent.

"We're not growing. We're not in a growth pattern," Falls added.

Total public school enrollment in Carroll fell by more than 12 percent from 2008 to 2015, from 28,707 students to 25,178, according to the Maryland Department of Planning.

And they're not anticipating growth of significance any time soon, Falls said.

"We have seats available," he added.

Another change, he said, deals with the application to change schools. Previously, a student had to reapply each year. Now, Falls said, students only have to apply when they change school level — from elementary to middle school, or from middle school to high school — so long as the child continues to do well.


Concerns over extracurricular activities — an issue that has been brought up in the past — were again mentioned during the board meeting. The policy allows for a student to change to an out-of-attendance area once and still be able to take part in extracurriculars there. But if a student moves to a second out-of-attendance-area school, the student would no longer eligible to participate in extracurricular activities at that new school.

Falls said he isn't worried about a large number of students jumping to change schools now. Most want to stay where they are, he added.

"Very few students take advantage," he said.