Howard County’s 45th elementary school will be in Columbia.
The county school board unanimously approved Clary’s Forest, a site off Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia’s Hickory Ridge area, as the future home of the school.
The school board held a special meeting Thursday to approve the site in advance of a county Planning Board meeting where a Downtown Columbia development plan was scheduled to be reviewed.
The school, slated to open in 2029 with a projected 660 seats, will feature parking, playing fields and accommodations for community use.
Capacity numbers could change over the next decade based on then-enrollment and projected enrollment exceeding 2029, according to Jahantab Siddiqui, chief communications officer for the school system.
A need for another elementary school in the Columbia area has been apparent since a 2015 feasibility study projected enrollment growth.
Howard Hughes Corp., the landowners and a major developer in Columbia, is giving about 10 acres for the project as part of a development agreement with the county.
Bess Altwerger, a school board member, said she voted “with a heavy heart,” in approving the Clary’s Forest location, as she wanted the new school in downtown Columbia.
“We need to make sure we are planning well and planning with students in mind, whether it be in Columbia or other county areas,” Altwerger said.
The school system will also look into two other Columbia properties, Dickinson Park and Huntington Park, for potential future school sites.
Hughes also is expected to dedicate the Dickinson and Huntington properties at no cost to the school system.
A 43rd elementary school is expected to open in 2024 on Mission Road in Jessup. A 44th school is set to be built in Turf Valley in Ellicott City with a projected 2026 opening, according to the school system’s proposed capital improvement program.