Howard County Board of Education Adopts FY22 Operating and Capital Budgets

May 27, 2021

Board of Education Adopts FY22 Operating and Capital Budgets

Ellicott City, Maryland — The Howard County Board of Education adopted its Operating and Capital Budgets for the 2021-2022 school year (FY 2022) on Thursday, May 27, 2021. The operating budget totals $942.6 million, an increase of $23.9 million over FY 2021. The FY 2022 capital budget totals $90.4 million, providing continuity of funding for priority capital projects.

The FY 2022 operating budget maintains the school system’s focus on supporting students and the staff who are entrusted with their education and care, by maintaining existing program and service levels without reducing class sizes or staff positions. It includes funding to advance the Board’s key priorities, including addressing critical shortages in special education staffing, enhancing the staffing and focus on student mental health and well-being, and increasing staff compensation.

“I am pleased that despite the need to make difficult decisions, we are able to increase our continuous support for special education, focus on students’ mental health and well-being, maintain class sizes, and advance other essential goals for the support of our students and excellent staff,” said Board Chair Dr. Chao Wu. “I appreciate the support and collaboration among our County Executive, County Council, Board members, Superintendent, staff and community members, which have resulted in a budget that is fiscally responsible while addressing the Board’s most critical priorities.”

“This budget moves our system forward in enhancing services and supports to give each student the best possible education in a nurturing learning environment, and to support the staff whom we entrust with their learning and care,” said HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano. “This budget represents a substantial increase in positions to support student well-being – which has been one of my top priorities – and adds five social workers, three pupil personnel workers, thirteen counselors and one psychologist. I greatly appreciate the ongoing collaboration among our county leaders, Board, staff and community, whose dedicated efforts have been instrumental in ensuring financial support for our students and schools within a very tight fiscal environment.”

The $942.6 million operating budget includes $640.8 million in county funding, representing approximately $10.5 million above Maintenance of Effort, the minimum level of funding required by state law; $282.5 million from the state; and $7.4 million from federal and other sources. The budget also includes the use of $12 million of unassigned fund balance in order to fulfill obligations and advance key goals without requiring deeper impact to the classroom.

The approved FY 2022 operating budget maintains the school system’s commitment to sound fiscal management and cost containment while fulfilling several of HCPSS’ highest priorities:

  • Addresses critical shortages in special education with the addition of 70.7 staff positions
  • Accommodates enrollment changes while maintaining current class sizes with the addition of 27 pooled positions
  • Enhances student well-being and mental health services through the addition of 22 student services positions, including five social workers, three pupil personnel workers, thirteen school counselors, and one school psychologist
  • Enhances support for early reading instruction and to address dyslexia and other reading challenges, with the addition of 4.5 reading specialist positions and DIBELS training for staff
  • Funds compensation increases for all staff
  • Sustains the recent investments in technology with the addition of 5.0 positions
  • Reduces the remaining Health Fund deficit by applying a $10 million, one-time county funding allocation
  • Fully funds actuarial projected employee health insurance costs for the fourth consecutive year

As a result of the ongoing budget pressures in the county and state, the needs of the school system continue to outpace funding allocations, and the Board had to make difficult decisions to balance the FY 2022 budget. Significant savings were realized by eliminating proposed new staff positions associated with enrollment growth anticipated in the 2021-2022 school year, while increasing the number of pooled positions to allow flexibility in staffing assignments throughout the year. Notably, the adopted budget avoids any reductions in services or programs, or increases in class size.  

Additional savings were achieved through the use of grant funding to cover as many costs as possible for technology infrastructure and student services. HCPSS will continue to aggressively seek federal and state grant funding to accelerate learning recovery and help relieve costs resulting from the pandemic and its impact on students and schools.

The Board adopted a FY 2022 Capital Budget totaling $90.4 million, for costs associated with continued construction of a replacement Talbott Springs Elementary School, scheduled to open in fall 2022; continued construction of a new 13th county high school, targeted to open in fall 2023; and a renovation and addition to Hammond High School, scheduled for completion in fall 2023. Additional funding is allocated for on-going and systemic renovations, which include replacements and upgrade of rooftops, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems at several schools, and other continued capital needs.

Details of the budget decisions are available online.

Chart School Application

HCPSS BOE is receiving its first charter school application, at least in my term. Here it is the application document for discussion on Thursday May 27, 2021. The school will be located in Elkridge and focus on students with needs.

The report provides the evaluation of the Reading Opens Doors, Inc charter school application. The original letter of intent and application were received on August 7, 2020 with the final application documents received on March 4, 2021. The applicant’s focus is to maximize the academic abilities of K-5th vulnerable and marginalized children and help them to pursue their dreams.

Here is the application pdf file.

The Housing Opportunity Master Plan for Howard County with my comments

Who are on the committee?

Maybe I missed, I did not see any Asian Americans on this committee, nor Latino Americans.

Some comments on the challenges raised in the report

CHALLENGE #1: LAND USE, PLANNING, AND ZONING

Housing supply has not kept up with housing demand, particularly over the last decade and given recent employment growth. This imbalance between supply and demand is leading to rising affordability issues.

Wu Comment: what is the goal (balance point) for the demand and need? If we don’t define it, we will see this argument for life.

CHALLENGE #2: LAND USE, PLANNING, AND ZONING

A lack of housing diversity throughout Howard County inhibits racial and socioeconomic integration. Historically disadvantaged populations, lower-income households and households experiencing poverty find that most of the housing options affordable to them are concentrated in only a few locations. This challenge is especially problematic considering that most remaining land and school capacity is in the Rural West, where current zoning regulations largely prohibit affordable housing development of any kind.

Wu Comment: But they are keeping building low-income houses in a few buildings in the Columbia downtown area, instead those should be spreat out. The newly proposed policies keep the same old, ill-practice.

CHALLENGE #3: LAND USE, PLANNING, AND ZONING

New development today is less diverse than the housing inventory overall. In recent years, new development has shifted in favor of rental apartments, and—at the same time—the for-sale market has largely stopped building smaller, attainably priced for-sale housing.

Wu Comment: there are only limited lands available and only 7% land left for development in Howard County.

CHALLENGE #4: PROGRAMS AND POLICIES

Howard County lacks a cohesive strategy for prioritization, policy/program design, and resource allocation.

Wu Comment: The policies are driven by developers such that loophole and exception everywhere.

CHALLENGE #5: PROGRAMS AND POLICIES

Existing resources are not sufficient to meet current and future capacity and demands (e.g., schools, transportation, etc.) while also dedicating funds to housing goals.

Wu Comment: That is the reason we need slow down new development to make sure the current school capacity and infrastructure to catch up first. Keeping building more and we will never catch up.

CHALLENGE #6: PROGRAMS AND POLICIES

It continues to be difficult to supply housing for diverse populations, with significant needs going forward.

Wu Comment: this is a very vague statement and it be applied anywhere they see fit.

CHALLENGE #7: PROGRAMS AND POLICIES

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic disruption is exposing and exacerbating housing insecurity.

Wu Comment: This is true.

  1. Housing security actually relates to job security. Sometimes policy with good intention can lead to larger harm. Remembering the 2008 finance crisis which crippled many many families, was built on the assumption: everyone should buy a house.
  2. Another is a sound personal financial management. How to spend the money we have wisely is not an easy task.

CHALLENGE #8: PROGRAMS AND POLICIES

A large portion of housing that is affordable to low- and moderate-income households in Howard County is older and at risk of deterioration and/or redevelopment going forward.

Wu Comment:

  1. Yes. We need revitalization on those houses with policy, monetary and community support.
  2. Look at the affordable housing debate in 2016, a proposal by Council Member, now state delegate Jen Terrasa where the proposal required 15% affordable units in all new housing development. It did not pass the county council. Here is the article I wrote at that time: https://chaowu.org/2016/07/27/columbias-downtown-and-affordable-housing/
  3. Another event showed developers’ influence during the last APFO update vote. The developers were sitting in the George Howard Building. In that night past 12 o’clock, some of them shouted on social media: your vote was illegitimate because of some procedure violation. I could not recall much detail for that night now unfortunately.

CHALLENGE #9: HOUSING AND INFRASTRUCTURE

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (“APFO”) is placing significant limitations on the amount of housing that can be built, and it is
potentially accelerating those capacity issues by limiting the ability to increase the tax base.

Wu Comment: New housing development could not pay for itself, neither school funding nor other infrastructure cost. Here is my calculation for your reference: https://chaowu.org/2021/05/10/some-math-about-hcpss-funding-needs-and-gaps/

The whole report is here:

Latest APFO chart from HCPSS

The Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (APFO) School Capacity charts are utilized as part of the growth management process of Howard County for new residential developments. The test year for the 2021 APFO
School Capacity Charts is SY 2024-25. For SY 2024-25, there are 22 elementary, six middle, and five high
schools listed as constrained. Additionally, there are two elementary school regions listed as constrained,
which constrains two additional schools, bringing the total to 24 elementary schools. (see Attachment 2).

Some math about HCPSS funding needs and gaps

Some math about HCPSS funding needs and gaps

I wrote something on this topic before. Here I am doing some simple math again with a relative simple model. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. Revised according to some suggestions.

Funding needs because of student enrollment growth

  1. We have been seeing an average of 1000 new students per year for HCPSS in the past 10 years. Assuming 10% of the growth are students with special needs.
  2. The increased cost is : 900*10,000 per student for general education from county funding +100*30000 per student for special education from county funding =12 million dollars
  3. Another calculation using average (16k per student ) 16k * 1000=16 million dollars. County funds 2/3 of those, which is equivalent 10.6 million dollars.
  4. So in general, we need more than 10 million extra dollars each year to accommodate our student’s growth in order not to increase class size or cut service.

Does housing development pay the cost?

  1. Assuming a house has two students over 30 years staying at HCPSS, ignoring inflation.
  2. The property tax for a 400k house is 4k*30=120 K dollars in total.
  3. The cost for 2 new students for HCPSS: 50k ( per student per seat in capital budget) *2 + 10000*13 (years)*2 = 360 K dollars
  4. The gap of funding is 240 K per house.
  5. If the house keeps generating students continuously ( the family moves in only when students attending HCPSS, assuming 20 years for two students ) , the tax will be 4k*20=80k. The gap will be 280k. Every forty year, the funding gap will be 560K, more than half million dollars.
  6. There are also many other costs (infrastructure, county government etc) beyond school system.

Control the city(Columbia)

“Control the city”, “Ownership and monopoly-like control over small cities” are those phrases really catching my eyes when I read the Howard Hughes Corporation’s Q4 2020 presentation.

The opportunity to control cities and monopoly-like control

Columbia

By the way, in the slides where it talks about Ward Village, Honolulu, they are building really expensive houses, for example, 36 million dollars houses.

The presentation is attached here:

HCPSS is hiring bus drivers

HCPSS is hiring bus drivers

Interested in becoming a bus driver?

Applicants must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age
  • Have a clean driving record
  • Have a clean criminal background
  • Be willing to work 180 days a year, and be off during the summer months (however, possible summer work is available)

View a list of current bus contractors and call their office for an application.

To be a certified school bus driver, you are required to:

  • Possess a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) with a “P” and “S” (passenger and school bus) endorsement. The HCPSS provides the behind-the-wheel instruction to acquire this license and the necessary endorsements.
  • Pass a physical and drug screening examination.
  • Provide a driving record that shows two or less current points. The driver will be able to acquire this from the MVA.
  • Submit to a criminal background check that results in no disqualifying convictions or outstanding criminal charges.
  • Complete an 18-hour pre-service training program for certification in Howard County provided by the HCPSS Pupil Transportation Office.
  • Wages and number of hours worked vary from contractor to contractor.

For questions regarding an application, please contact the Pupil Transportation Office at 410-313-6732 or view the current bus contractor list for direct phone numbers.

Think twice about passing that school bus. In Howard County, it could cost  you $250. - Baltimore Sun

Discussion at the Howard County Council meeting with SAAC committee

Discussion at the Howard County Council meeting with SAAC committee

I put up the speech last night and did not do much grammar check.

Chair Walsh, thanks for inviting me to this meeting. This is Dr. Chao Wu, chair of Howard County Board of Education. I am not speaking on behalf of the board, even though probably every board member agrees with me.  I appreciate the county council for giving me the opportunity.

Since the release of the Spending Affordability Advisory Committee (SAAC) report, it has been a month and half. Our county executive already released his 2022 capital budget.

I would like to talk about the SAAC report and the ongoing challenges the school system is facing. I am also proposing two possible solutions. 

First, let’s talk about 2022 school system capital projects. There is an urgent funding need for school maintenance and three new construction projects (Talbott Springs ES, Hammond High and HS 13). Under the county executive 2022 capital budget, the gap is as high as 30 million dollars for the school system.

  1. The Board and HCPSS staff have continuously noted during public discussions with the County Council and State Delegation regarding the costs of these three construction projects. These projects moved forward with construction in 2021 because of the joint commitment to maintain this funding. 
  2. However, with  the current capital funding level from the county’s 2022 capital budget, we have to defer many maintenance projects again. Some projects have been deferred for more than 10 years, even 20 years. That is one reason why the school system is having a 800 million dollars maintenance list since we keep deferring them. Here are some examples:
    1. ARL Heating ventilation and Air Conditioning renovation, last replaced 1968. Older than many people here. The cost is 25 million dollars.
    2. Centennial High School Renovation, Addition and HVAC replacement, last replaced 1997. Cost 90 million dollars.
    3. Dunloggin Middle School, Renovation, Addition and HVAC replacement, last replaced in 1994,  cost 41 million dollars.
    4. Elkridge Landing Middle School, HVAC replacement, last replaced 1995. Cost 10 million dollars
    5. Forest Ridge Elementary School, Heating ventilation and air conditioning system replacement, last replaced 1992, cost 42 million dollars
    6. Fulton Elementary School, HVAC and Roof replacement, last replaced 1997, cost 18 million dollars
    7. Hammond Middle School, Renovation and HVAC replacement, 41 million dollars
    8. Harpers Choice Middle school, renovation and HVAC replacement, 17 million dollars,
    9. Jefferson Hills ES, Boiler replacement, last replaced 1974, cost 0.5 million dollars; HVAC replacement, last replaced 1998, cost 51 million dollars
    10. Long Reach High School, HVAC replacement, 38 million dollars
    11. Manor Woods Elementary School, HVAC replacement, last replaced 1994, cost 10 million dollars
    12. Mayfield Woods MS renovation, 41 million dollars
    13. Oakland Mills High School, renovation,  last renovated 1973, cost 110 million 
    14. Oakland Mills Middle School renovation, 51 million dollars
    15. Old Cedar Lane, replacement of heating, ventilation, air conditioning, last replaced 1982, cost 10 million dollars
    16. Patapsco Middle School, Renovation and HVAC replacement, last replaced 1996, cost 51 million dollars
    17. Pointers Run Elementary School, renovation, 20 million dollars
    18. St Johns Lane Elementary School, HVAC replacement, , 16 million dollars
    19. Wilde Lake High School, HVAC and boilers replacement.  Cost 5.5 million dollars.
  3. New school construction is needed for our country’s rapid development and continuous student enrollment increase. 
  4. Maintenance funding is needed to provide a safe and pleasant working and learning environment. 
  5. Missing either new school funding or the maintenance funding will lead us to a more dire situation since we don’t see any relief coming soon:  future county revenue projection is slowing down and the student enrollment keeps increasing due to fast housing development across the whole county. 

Second, let’s talk about the operating budget. We are looking forward that a hold-harmless number (maintaining FY21 funding level) should be maintained. We did see the enrollment dip because of the pandemic. However, we should expect the student will come back in the fall when we expect HCPSS will have full five-day in-classroom instruction. We should have this confidence that HCPSS will continue to provide quality education to attract parents and students to come to our school. 

Third, over the last three budget cycles, HCPSS has realigned and reduced spending considerably by eliminating positions, increasing class sizes and cutting programs to balance our budget. We can only do so much with limited funding. 

Finally, I strongly believe and propose a solution:  our county’s capital project funding ,operating budget funding and our county’s planning and zoning (by the way, I mean HoCo by Design or the general plan) should always put HCPSS in the center of every decision. 

Proposal for MOE formula for deferred maintenance

 I also propose that we create an MOE (maintenance of effort) for deferred maintenance too, which will hold our county executive and county council accountable for our school system’s maintenance funding.  Once a current aging HVAC system fails catastrophically and no replacement parts will be available due to the old aging system, we have no wiggle room to defer them any longer. The longer we kick the can further away, the higher cost it needs in the future. Keeping deferring them is to cheat ourselves and jeopardize our short term and long term financial health. Past decisions not funding them sufficiently and aggregating to such a large number should be a waking call for us all.

More than 90% of our county’s tax comes from personal income tax and property tax. We should value our parents’ trust in our education system. So all stakeholders, including the county executive, county council and the school board should work hard, both on the funding side and planning side to maintain HCPSS’s reputation. 

Thank you.

HoCo County Council Bill CB 24-2021

HoCo County Council Bill CB 24-2021

CB24-2021 has two amendment areas.

  1. The first addresses the addition of a public ethics report to be made by applicants for development regarding campaign contributions/business with County Council members and/or the County Executive.
  2. The second would prohibit action on proposed zoning regulation amendments during a period leading up to the adoption of a new Howard County General Plan (specifically, nine years after the implementation of the current plan up until the new plan is adopted – this plan is currently on a 10-year cycle, thus this would apply one year before adoption).

While staff cannot estimate a direct impact on HCPSS without knowing what proposed regulations may be delayed by the bill, generally they would agree with the notion that if changes to the General Plan are imminent within the next year, passing new zoning regulations may be counterintuitive to the purpose of the plan itself to provide guidance.

The video is here:

Board Member Report 2021-3-25

Board Member Report 2021-3-25

While we are gradually returning to normal, I urge our parents, students and staff to contact schools if you have any questions. The school will strive to find solutions to challenges faced by families, which may have been overlooked.  

Please note that for the school board itself and individual board members, we could not comment publicly on personnel matters, teacher contract, etc. The school will try our best to accommodate the individual needs for every student and staff, but we have to function as a healthy, financially feasible organization for the sake of the whole community.

I want to talk about the recent Atlanta massacre which killed eight Americans, six of them are Asian Americans. The board and the superintendent sent out a statement to parents and we want to make sure our Asian American community feels safe and protected. There is an ongoing crisis where violence, physical attack and hate towards Asian American in this country. It has been in existence for a long time. The Atlanta shooting has brought this crisis upfront. Yesterday, several board members, myself and Dr. Martirano attended a rally at Downtown Columbia to support AAPI community. It’s heartwarming to see the support from the community.

At the same time, I feel very sad when the Atlanta Police Spokesman Jay Baker said the killer just had a bad day. That remark literally says that eight lives are nothing. I truly wish the government, the media and the general public can look directly at the struggles and challenges Asian Americans are facing. One key problem is that Asian Americans are not treated as Americans.

We need to support each other to move our society forward. Only when we support each other fighting against discrimination and racism, respect each other, value everyone’s effort of pursuing their dreams, are we a full American country.

We may have different approaches to address these problems. However, we should be able to stand up for those who are suffering discrimination and racism, lift their voice, listen to their concerns and support them. We should take care of our community, elders, weak, ill, handicaped, children, women and everyone in need. 

Asian Americans will not go away.  Our struggles are the struggles of Americans. We should always stay united and find solutions to address this issue.

Thank you.

HCPSS Seeks Members for Secondary Language Arts Criteria and Instructional Materials Review Committee

HCPSS Seeks Members for Secondary Language Arts Criteria and Instructional Materials Review Committee

March 23, 2021

Applications Due April 9, 2021

Ellicott City, Maryland — Howard County Public School System is currently seeking candidates among Howard County teachers, community members, and HCPSS students in grades 8-11 to serve on the Secondary Language Arts Criteria and Instructional Materials Review Committee. 

Committee members review the selection criteria for instructional materials and recommend revisions, as needed; review any materials requested for reevaluation; and advise, support, and advocate for the continuous improvement of the HCPSS Secondary Language Arts program.

Membership is for two academic years, continuing through June 2023. All meetings will be held virtually for the remainder of the current school year, and copies of texts for review will be provided. 

Interested participants are invited to submit an application online. The deadline for submitting an application is Friday, April 9, 2021. All applicants will be notified about the status of their application by April 16, 2021

For more information, contact Nancy Czarnecki, Coordinator of Secondary Language Arts, at ncarnecki@hcpss.org.


HCPSS Digital Education Center Virtual Information Sessions, March 31, 2021

HCPSS Digital Education Center Virtual Information Sessions, March 31, 2021

March 18th, 2021

My note:

  1. The full digital learning center is depending on FY 2022 funding which will be determined by the county executive and the county council in April and May 2021 separately.
  2. This information session helps the school system to gauge student interest and set up the center accordingly.
  3. The student enrolled into this digital learning center still belong to a home school.
  4. The teacher in this digital learning center will not teach concurrently. They may work from home or dedicated school space.
  5. Here is the budget proposal for this center https://chaowu.org/2021/02/16/hcpss-proposed-digital-learning-center/

The Howard County Public School System is considering a virtual school option for students in grades K-12 who wish to remain virtual for the 2021-2022 (upcoming) school year. Once finalized, the Digital Education Center program will give students the option to access synchronous (real-time) instruction and digital assignments while receiving support services from the student’s districted home school. 

The HCPSS Digital Education Center (DEC) is currently in the planning and design phase. The DEC would allow students to take all classes and earn credits virtually while maintaining a relationship with their assigned home school. The final DEC scope and options are subject to funding, staffing and final Board of Education approval. 

HCPSS students and families interested in learning about the DEC option can register to attend a virtual information session Wednesday, March 31 at 1 or 7 p.m. Register using the links below to receive login information for the applicable session.

Please select one of the links below to register for a session:

Information presented during the session will be made available online following each session for those who are unable to attend. Answers to frequently asked questions and additional information on the DEC are forthcoming. 

Please note that decisions on the 2021-2022 academic year, in terms of students returning in person, hybrid or virtually have not yet been determined, and will be communicated as soon as possible.

HCPSS Response to Recent Violence and Incidents of Anti-Asian Hatred

HCPSS Response to Recent Violence and Incidents of Anti-Asian Hatred

March 18th, 2021

The following statement was issued by the Howard County Board of Education and HCPSS Superintendent Michael Martirano on March 18, 2021:

We are deeply saddened by the tragic shooting in Atlanta on Tuesday, March 16. Eight people were killed, including six Asian Americans. This tragedy is particularly painful to members of our Asian community in Howard County, and many Asian students are understandably fearful. One month ago on the Lunar New Year holiday, six local restaurants, including four owned by Asians, were burglarized and vandalized. Two weeks ago, a hateful and racist speech against Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and immigrants was delivered during the Howard County Racial Equity Task Force Public Hearing held on March 4th. 

Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. We are witnessing in horror the recent increase in incidents of violence, attacks, hatred and discrimination against Asian Americans. Recent reports indicate there have been thousands of incidents targeting Asian Americans across the nation. The Howard County Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano unequivocally condemn all anti-Asian violence, crimes and incidents. 

HCPSS is committed to providing a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone in our community. We are enormously proud of our diverse and inspiring Asian American students and families. We are also very appreciative of the Asian American community’s contributions to HCPSS and Howard County. We reaffirm that Asian students are an integral part of diversity, equity, and inclusion in Howard County and our nation. HCPSS staff are committed to offering full support at this time of great stress for our Asian American students and families.

First and foremost, it is critical that we tend to the well-being of our students who require support. HCPSS will not tolerate bullying in any form; we ask that any child who feels victimized to reach out to a trusted adult. Students, staff and family members can easily and confidentially report incidents of bullying on the HCPSS Stop Bullying website. Counselors and staff in all of our schools are prepared to support any students who need someone to talk to. Additional resources are provided below that may be helpful for parents and educators as you discuss these recent events with your children. 

We encourage everyone to stand in solidarity with our Asian American community. We urge the leaders of our country, as well as our county, to work harder to stop the hatred and take concrete actions to protect vulnerable minorities, including Asian Americans. As Martin Luther King said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” An inclusive, just, and compassionate Howard County starts with treating all citizens and community members with kindness, respect and trust.

Resources
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) provides the following information for parents and educators to talk with children about violence:

Additional reminders from NASP include:

  • Reassure children that they are safe
  • Make time to talk
  • Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate
  • Review safety procedures
  • Observe children’s emotional state
  • Limit television (and social media) viewing of these events
  • Maintain a normal routine

HCPSS Resources
The Mental Health and Wellness webpage provides guidelines, tips and sources of help.

HCPSS Class of 2020 Graduation Rate Continues to Rise

HCPSS Class of 2020 Graduation Rate Continues to Rise

The percentage of HCPSS students who receive high school diplomas continues to rise and to outpace statewide results, according to data recently released by the Maryland State Department of Education.

At 93.4%, the graduation rate for the HCPSS Class of 2020 exceeded the Maryland average of 86.8%, and is up from 92.8% for 2019 and from 92.0% in 2018. Howard County’s rate remains the highest among the six Maryland school systems having enrollment of more than 50,000 students. The statistics reflect data for the cohort of students graduating within four years after entering high school.

HCPSS dropout patterns echo the graduation rate trends. At 3.6%, the dropout rate for the Class of 2020 shows a significant improvement compared to 4.5% in 2019 and 4.8% in 2018. The HCPSS dropout rate is well below the state average of 8.3% and compares favorably to other large Maryland school systems. 

While graduation rate gaps persist among student demographic groups, several groups showed notable improvement compared to the prior year. At 91.2%, the graduation rate for Black/African American students increased by over 2 full percentage points from 88.7% in 2019. The graduation rate for Hispanic/Latinx students also showed improvement at 80.4% in 2020, up from 79.3% in 2019. Among students receiving special services, the Limited English Proficiency (LEP) group showed the greatest improvement, increasing by over 10 percentage points to 57.9%, from 47.2% last year. The rates for students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals, which is an indicator of poverty, improved by over 5 percentage points to 84.3% for 2020, compared to 79.1% last year. Graduation rates for students receiving special education services rose to 73.8%, up from 70.5% in 2019. The group designations are assigned by MSDE to track year-over-year performance.

“Our focus on equity to give all students the supports they need to be successful is driven by the goal to ensure all students are college and career ready, and the graduation rate is a key performance indicator,” said Superintendent Michael J. Martirano. “The improvements in graduation rates among several student groups that have been most impacted by achievement gaps are encouraging, and reinforce the importance of initiatives around attendance, access, achievement and acceptance, which are closely associated with student achievement. As we recover from the pandemic, we must amplify our support for students who have been most acutely impacted, and we are preparing a robust summer learning program to provide learning recovery and acceleration.”

“High school graduation is one of the most critical milestones in preparing for a satisfying, successful life, and much of our success as a school system can be evaluated by our effectiveness in graduating every one of our students,” said Board of Education Chair Chao Wu. “I am pleased that Howard County graduation rates continue to improve, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our outstanding staff.” 

HCPSS focuses improvement efforts targeted to all of the major factors contributing to student engagement, achievement and ultimately, graduation. The school system’s Strategic Call to Action: Learning and Leading with Equity includes multiple strategies and performance measures aimed at improving achievement and learning engagement, with individualized instruction, equitable access to learning experiences, and special supports for at-risk and struggling students. The instructional program emphasizes education as a birth-through-graduation continuum and involves families and the community as essential partners in student success. System and school leaders continuously work to identify and address the root causes of equity gaps that influence achievement and graduation levels. Multiple HCPSS initiatives are targeted to overcome factors that contribute to achievement gaps, which begin in the early grades.

MSDE posts details on graduation and dropout rates for HCPSS and other systems and individual schools on its Maryland Report Card site.

https://news.hcpss.org/news-posts/2021/02/hcpss-class-of-2020-graduation-rate-continues-to-rise/