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Howard County school system enrollment increases for third straight month | EDUCATION NOTEBOOK

The Howard County Public School System’s enrollment has increased for the third straight month, according to system data.

In a sign that the system is returning to normal amid improved coronavirus metrics, the typically burgeoning district, which has seen enrollment rapidly increase in the past decade, has welcomed small increases in February, March and April with the return of in-person learning.

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After reporting an increase of 128 students in February and 87 in March following five straight months of decline, the district recently released data that shows an increase of 81 students in April.

The district’s enrollment is now 57,366, higher than in September 2020 but still much lower than before the pandemic. Most school systems in Maryland that conducted virtual learning during the pandemic experienced enrollment declines in the fall.

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Enrollment in a normal year is crucial, and this year it has been a constant point of discussion among school system officials, the Board of Education and the county government. Annual funding from the state is tied to enrollment, while money from the county is correlated with enrollment.

This year, however, county school systems will not be held accountable for enrollment decreases amid the pandemic, meaning funding will remain steady based on 2019 enrollment numbers. Enrollment for the school system in September 2021 likely will determine the district’s funding levels for the fiscal 2023 operating budget.

The district’s enrollment starkly fell to begin the school year and continued downward in the fall and winter due to the pandemic, which shuttered school buildings in March 2020 and led to 100% virtual learning through February of this year.

In May 2020, enrollment was 59,447, but that number fell by 2,154 students in prekindergarten through 12th grade. To start the 2019-20 academic year, Howard’s enrollment was 57,293, according to an official count from Sept. 30.

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Then, from October through January, an average of 55 students left the school system each month. Following the board’s vote in late January to start hybrid learning in March, though, more students started returning to the district, with the enrollment as of April 30 being nearly 300 students more than in January and 73 more than last September. April’s figure is still 2,081 less than in May 2020.

River Hill wins state FBLA conference championship

The River Hill Future Business Leaders of America club won the 2021 Maryland FBLA State Leadership Conference championship in April.

River Hill and its 169 members earned 26 first place wins, 15 silver medals, 25 bronze medals and 14 fourth place finishes. All the winners will advance to the National Leadership Conference in June.

The chapter’s officer team won the American Enterprise project, Community Service project, FBLA-PBL Week, Local Chapter Annual Business Report and Partnership with Business Project.

Two of River Hill FBLA’s officers, Mayzie Connelly and Dhruv Gupta, completed the Rising Leaders program, placing second in the Innovation Challenge and fifth in the Scavenger Hunt.

Laura Zhang was put forth by the chapter to serve as Maryland FBLA’s secretary-treasurer and earned the delegates’ votes. She will serve in the role during the 2021-22 academic year.

The chapter, led by business, computer science and technology teacher Teresa Waters, also won several awards at the conference, being named the Chapter of the Year and winning the Largest Local Chapter Membership award.

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