Facility Utilization Assessment and Boundary Adjustment

Client: Harford County Public Schools

Location: Maryland

Meet the Client

The Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) has the eighth-largest student enrollment of the 24 public school systems in Maryland, with approximately 37,000 students at 55 schools. It covers a mostly suburban area northeast of Baltimore. At the time of the project, HCPS also had three major capital projects planned for upcoming years.

The Challenge

Due to rising student enrollment and special education program enrollment, several schools in HCPS were at or over capacity. To help HCPS balance enrollment, FLO assisted the district with boundary reviews and program analyses for all elementary, middle, and high schools.

The Solution

FLO conducted a district-wide study that provided a comprehensive review of county enrollment forecasts, facility capacities, residential development trends, and long-term needs, including a scope study for a new elementary school, siting selection for another school, special programs, and an evaluation of the drivers of district-wide enrollment balancing

We worked closely with district staff to review and assess all data used in our boundary scenario modeling application, including understanding HCPS’s enrollment forecast data and coordinating with program staff to determine the ideal program classroom placements at each school. We interviewed several municipal and county planners to determine near- and long-term potential residential developments in the county and used this information to allocate forecasted students to those areas.

In partnership with a community engagement subconsultant Bloom Planning, FLO led the public engagement efforts during advisory team meetings and online community open houses in the spring of 2021. This process included facilitating virtual advisory team meetings and breakout sessions, making updates to proposed school attendance area boundaries during and between meetings, generating updated statistics, and documenting and preparing materials that were publicly available on the project website. Despite the pandemic, we were able to engage hundreds of community members in virtual meetings and use interactive dashboards to make the data for decision-making transparent and easy to understand.

The virtual community forums we co-led with our communications consultant for Harford County Public Schools’ enrollment balancing project regularly attracted hundreds of participants—sometimes up to 700 people at a time.

The Results

The advisory team reconvened after the final community open house to present a final boundary recommendation to the superintendent in June 2021. FLO held subsequent meetings with the superintendent to provide data support for additions and changes to the advisory team recommendation. This included an additional analysis of a proposed boundary for a new elementary school in the heart of the county. In the fall of 2021, the superintendent held a series of community meetings to socialize the proposed boundary changes and continued to receive feedback on the boundary recommendation. The HCPS School Board approved the superintendent’s recommendation in February 2022.

View an interactive map we created to communicate boundary changes to the Harford County community: https://maulfoster.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=0cfbaab91ff54fe2b5fb8ff752990a81


Contact Us
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Kate Doiron

Senior GIS Analyst

(971) 703-4286

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