Getting to the Bottom of Crowded Hallways


Maia Adeoye, Staff

Like all high schools, CHS has crowded hallways. The hallways and the state they are in affect everyone from teachers to students. Why are crowds such a problem at CHS?

According to the BCPS website, “High school overcrowding is expected to peak in the next decade.” As the number of students grow, the hallways, classrooms and buses get more and more crowded.

What does the county plan to do? There are 7 scenarios.

Scenario 1: Use Existing Seats prioritizes use of existing capacity at comprehensive schools that are projected to have less enrollment than their school’s State Rated Capacity (SRC), but only to a degree.

Scenario 2: Use Existing Seats Aggressively minimizes the cost of increasing capacity through new construction (replacements or additions) by fully using existing school capacity at schools with less enrollment than their school’s State Rated Capacity (SRC).

Scenario 3: Just Build It minimizes boundary changes by building additional capacity through additions to schools that are projected to be over 110% capacity.

Scenario 4: Magnets on the Move uses a strategy of moving programs, such as ESOL and magnet programs, from schools that are projected to be over 110% capacity to schools that are projected to have less enrollment than their school’s State Rated Capacity (SRC).

Scenario 5: Toward “Optimal” School Size prioritizes a maximum school capacity of 1,700 for schools that are receiving additions or replacement schools to increase their capacity. Existing schools whose capacity currently exceeds 1700 would not be subject to capacity reductions.

Scenario 6: Building Magnets prioritizes countywide equity in access to Magnet programs and quality of magnet facilities by increasing magnet schools’ capacity countywide through replacement schools.

Scenario 7: The FY2019 Capital Plan prioritizes the FY2019 capital plan, which will relocate up to 2,027 students and add up to 3,311 seats in high schools.

According to the study, the county would have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to fix the high school crowding problem. There are seven proposals, ranging in cost from $275 million to more than $600 million. The less expensive scenarios aggressively use redistricting to move students from crowded high schools to ones with more room.

What does this have to do with crowded hallways? An overcrowded school results in crowding everywhere. CHS already has approximately 50 students over this year’s predicted enrollment of 1801, and all-time high, and that number is still growing as new students enroll through first quarter.

A study was conducted across BCPS, asking not just about overcrowding at CHS, but also at schools across the county. Students and teachers were asked which scenarios they thought would work best for the overcrowding issue. Scenario 7, the FY2019 capital plan, had the most support from voters. Many felt that having a system that added additions to overcrowded schools and relocated students to lessen the issue of overcrowding would be best than just relocating students alone.

According to the FY2019 capital plan, Catonsville High school would be subject to boundary changes. Scenarios 4 and 6 had 0 votes. The people asked about 4 and 6 said that moving magnet programs or building more magnet would add more schools but wouldn’t be beneficial to students who cannot go to magnet schools. These scenarios would not affect CHS’ overcrowding problem directly.