Howard County Times

Annual exercise to guide residential growth predicts 30 Howard County public schools will be over capacity in coming years

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Twenty-one elementary schools, five middle schools, and four high schools in the Howard County Public School System were designated as “constrained” by the school board last week, meaning they are expected to be over capacity for enrollment in the 2025-26 school year.

The Board of Education approves the list of constrained schools annually and sends it to the Howard County Council to guide future residential development decisions. It’s part of a process that helps county government officials determine where and when residential growth should occur in order to manage impacts on local schools, roads and other county services.


Howard County’s Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance states that development may not occur in areas where schools are above capacity, or are constrained. This designation occurs when elementary schools are at 105% of capacity; for middle schools the threshold is 110%, and for high schools 115%.

The school board voted unanimously May 12 to approve the 2022 APFO School Capacity Chart, which is updated for the 2025-26 school year, and submit it to the County Council.


For 2025-26, elementary schools listed as constrained include: Atholton, Bryant Woods, Clemens Crossing, Cradlerock, Dayton Oaks, Elkridge, Fulton, Gorman Crossing, Hammond, Hanover Hills, Manor Woods, Northfield, Phelps Luck, Pointers Run, Rockburn, St. John’s Lane, Veterans, Waverly and West Friendship.

In addition, Centennial Lane and Hollifield Station are both considered constrained because though their capacity levels are not projected to reach the 105% mark, they are both in the northern region of the county, and that entire region is considered constrained.

Middle schools listed as constrained include: Harpers Choice, Mount View, Murray Hill, Patapsco and Thomas Viaduct. Clarksville Middle is expected to be just under the 110% capacity mark in 2025-26, and is listed at 109.2%. Dunloggin Middle is listed at 108% capacity in 2025-26 but will drop to 78.9% capacity in 2027-2028 once an addition, funded in the county’s Capital Improvement Plan in 2023, is built. Wilde Lake Middle School is expected to be at the lowest capacity percentage in 2025-26, at 88.9%.

High schools listed as constrained include Long Reach, Marriotts Ridge, Mount Hebron and Reservoir. Howard High School came in just under the threshold, at 114.7% capacity for the 2025-26 school year, and is expected to exceed the 115% mark in 2027-28 and beyond. River Hill High School has the lowest capacity percentage, at 96% and remains under 100% expected capacity on the chart through 2034-35.

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The County Council will pre-file legislation on housing allocations and the school capacity chart on May 26, introduce legislation on June 6, hold a public hearing on June 21 and hold a work session on June 27.

Amendments are due on June 30, leading to council action on July 5.