Baltimore County Councilmembers Propose Legislation to Tackle School Overcrowding

Baltimore County Councilmembers have introduced new legislation aimed at addressing the pressing issue of school overcrowding in the region. The proposed measures could restrict development in areas where schools are overcrowded and limit the number of students allowed to attend a school at any given time.

“If you’re at 100%, 115%, 130%, where are these students going to sit, in the hallway?” questioned County Councilmember Izzy Patoka, who co-sponsored the legislation alongside Councilmembers Mike Ertel, Wade Kach, David Marks, and Julian Jones. “It’s not right. It’s not fair to our communities, not fair to our families.”

The legislation seeks to address several key concerns. Firstly, it aims to reduce the maximum capacity of schools from the current 115% to 100% over time. “Right now in Baltimore County, you can allow schools to have 115% capacity,” Patoka explained. “Really in Baltimore, there should be no schools that are above 100% capacity, and this legislation tries to get us down over time from 115% to 100%.”

Additionally, the proposed bill would eliminate a loophole that has allowed developers to build in overcrowded areas as long as a nearby school is below capacity. “The current legislation will take away that adjacency exemption,” Patoka said.

Furthermore, the legislation would provide a better way to address the timing of when students from new developments will enter the school system. “It could limit residential development or we could have participation from our development community to help provide schools for families moving into these developments,” Patoka stated.

Kurt Nachtman, with the Lutherville Community Association, welcomed the legislation as a strong start. “I am pleased this bill has been introduced, it’s something that has been sorely lacking in Baltimore County for years,” he said.

While acknowledging the bill’s focus on school overcrowding, Nachtman expressed a desire for it to also address other infrastructure needs such as water, sewer, and traffic, as well as ensuring that developers pay impact fees. “I am hoping there will be amendments to strengthen this bill even more to really protect communities from over-development or rapid over-development,” he added.

The proposed legislation represents a concerted effort by Baltimore County Councilmembers to address the longstanding issue of school overcrowding and ensure that the county’s educational infrastructure can accommodate its growing population.