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School Overcrowding Law In Baltimore County Would Be Studied By Proposed Task Force

Baltimore County

Overcrowded schools have been a profound problem in Baltimore County for three decades.

That’s according to a county councilman who wants to create a task force to study the law that controls developments in school districts.

One issue the proposed task force likely would look at is a loophole in the law that allows developers to build homes and apartments near schools that are already overcrowded if there is room in an adjacent school district. The school board is then supposed to change school boundaries, switching students from the crowded school to the building that has room. School advocates say that never happens.

“We have schools in overcrowded areas that continue to get more and more overcrowded, and more developments being proposed,” said Republican Councilman David Marks, who is proposing the resolution to establish the task force.

Changing school boundaries is often controversial and politically charged. Developers and county planners argue that the school board should do it more often because it is a relatively inexpensive way to deal with overcrowding.

Developers also point out that new projects generate more tax money for the county, which helps pay for new schools.

Marks said the task force would look at other issues that are leading to packed schools, such as whether estimates of how many children will be living in proposed developments are accurate.

“A number of us don’t feel that we are adequately looking at the cumulative impact of all of these new developments,” Marks said.

The councilman said the task force would look at other jurisdictions to see how they are dealing with overcrowding.

Marks’ resolution establishing the task force requires it to wrap up its work by the end of the year.

“We don’t want this to be something that lingers for two years,” Marks said.

The resolution should have no trouble passing when it’s voted on next month because all members of the council support it.

As to whether County Executive Johnny Olszewski supports Marks’ proposal, press secretary Sean Naron said, “The county is reviewing the introduced proposal as we continue to develop the long-term school construction plan that will provide a clear roadmap to best serve all our children and communities.”

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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