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A Path to a Crofton High School

A top school official said he envisions a scenario under which a new high school in Crofton will be needed sooner rather than later.

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. 

Chris W September 27, 2012 at 10:29 AM
It does not makes sense to build a new high school in Crofton when the numbers do not support it. They would be better off increasing the capacity at existing schools. Arundel is a good school, and south river is not that far. I had to travel around the same distance 30 years ago. It's not a big deal.
EA September 27, 2012 at 01:59 PM
I think that Seven Oaks should be included in any redistricted plans involving either Arundel or Crofton high schools. A middle school should also be in order to combine all of Odenton and Crofton.
Judy September 28, 2012 at 04:34 AM
We moved to Crofton in 1996, when my kids were toddlers,a 13th high school was in the works then. I joined the committee's, went to BOE meetings and nothing ever happened. My kids graduated from Arundel, their friends from South River, and Crofton still doesn't have a high school to unite the community.
Papa Starfish October 10, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Blaming school-based personnel seems to be a bit misguided, don't you think? Teachers and support staff have very little to do with the planning and construction of a high school.
Papa Starfish October 10, 2012 at 04:27 PM
Interesting, it looks I shouldn't get too excited about a new high school.

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