Crofton won't be getting a new high school tomorrow, but signs indicate it could get one eventually, a top school official said this week.
Overcrowded schools in Crofton have led to a new effort to redistrict the area, sparking resumed discussion of whether the community should have a high school of its own. Currently, students from Crofton are split between Arundel High and South River High.
Chuck Yocum, a specialist in demographics planning for Anne Arundel County Schools (AACPS), said there's not enough overcrowding in Crofton to justify a new high school just yet. But he offered a scenario under which overcrowding elsewhere—specifically, the most western portion of Anne Arundel County—could result in a new school constructed in Crofton.
Projected enrollment numbers from AACPS show that by 2017, Arundel High School will be at 98 percent capacity, while South River High School will be at 106 percent capacity. That represents roughly 100 excess students, which Yocum said hardly justifies a new high school.
But, he pointed to three things that could tip things higher:
- The development known as Two Rivers, which could come under construction as soon as 2015 at the south end of Odenton and Gambrills. It would bring more than 2,000 homes to the Crofton area.
- Another possible housing development nearby could also add 800 homes.
- Population pressure in the Laurel area, which could force the school system to look toward east for capacity. Meade High School, which serves most of Laurel as well as the Seven Oaks section of Odenton, is currently closed to new students. But big housing projects in Laurel, including Arundel Gateway, are on their way.
Yocum said he envisioned a scenario in which the school system redistricts to push more students from the west into Arundel High, thus placing that school over capacity. Additional population growth in south county would also add students at South River, he said. In theory, all of these factors could result in a surplus of more than 1,000 students—perhaps enough to justify a request for a new high school, he said.
"It's not the situation right now, but we're very close to being able to make a case," Yocum said.
A new high school would likely necessitate approval for financing from the state. Cost estimates for a new high school have topped $100 million.
Currently, a redistricting committee is exploring options for reducing overcrowding at Nantucket Elementary. Yocum told the group Monday that it can request a new high school as an addendum to its redistricting plan. (This prompted applause from the audience of Crofton parents.)
"If it's put into a recommendation, I think the superintendent and the board would look at that very carefully," he said.