At least a dozen elementary schools in the central and northern part of the county are seriously overcrowded and more schools or brick-and-mortar additions will likely be needed, school planning officials told the Baltimore County Board of Education Tuesday night.
Kara Calder, executive director of planning and support operations for the system, said that system-wide enrollment growth from 104,331 students currently to 107,309 students in five years, is steady growth overall.
But the increase in the elementary school enrollment is more dramatic, she said, and the system will have to look more closely at long-term options such as building schools or additions.
"Relocatable classrooms are not a long-term solution," she said.
Schools in Maryland measure overcrowding by what is called "state rated capacity," which is a formula that the state Department of Education uses to determine if a school has reached its limit. The formula factors into building design, classroom use and other factors. Portable classrooms are not considered in the formula.
While high school and middle school enrollments are projected to go up, they are not projected to surpass the state-rated capacity for buildings, meaning the need to add seats is not as urgent.
Elementary schools, however, are expected to match state-rated capacity by 2014.
Currently at least 12 schools are over 100 percent capacity in enrollment based on September enrollment figures. They are: Hampton, Sparks, Lutherville, Padonia, Stoneleigh, Pot Spring, West Towson, Timonium, Riderwood, Rodgers Forge, Pinewood and Warren elementary schools.
School officials have focused their efforts to relieve overcrowding at Hampton and Stoneleigh elementary schools in the past two years, but Sparks, Lutherville and Padonia elementary schools are at at least 129 percent capacity.
The system currently has two viable sites that it owns which could be used for new elementary schools, including a site in the Mays Chapel area and Dulaney Springs area.
Board President Lawrence Schmidt asked if any major redistricting would ease overcrowding issues, but Calder said that because the overcrowded schools are in one region that it would not work.
"You don't have a lot of seats out there to shift children at this point," she said. "It doesn't work from a system-wide perspective."
Board members received the information in a report for long-term planning purposes. The board will start planning for future capital program budgets in the coming months.
At its last meeting, $75 million in capital projects for the 2013 fiscal year.