Howard County to Open a 13th High School in 2023

The construction site for the 13th high school on Mission Road. (Lauren Kelly)

The blueprints have been drawn, the signatures gathered, and the first bits of the foundation laid. Howard County will open the doors to a new high school in September 2023, an attempt to solve the overcrowding of schools in the area.

Dr. Chao Wu, a member of the Howard County Board of Education, says many schools in HCPSS are over 100% students capacity. With high schools around the county overcrowded, many are calling for relief.

In a Paw Print poll, most students said that they were unaware of the 13th high school.

One of the students who did not know about the school was senior Jacelyn Asafo-Adje, who says she is most interested in the addition of sports teams. “You know, we have rival schools and [the school] would change the sports system,” she said. “It would just be a new school to look out for.”

At the announcement of the new school, debates rose over its location. Online groups such as “Why Not Jessup” campaigned for the current location. Other groups argued that Elkridge would be best. 

Eventually, it was decided that the 13th high school would be constructed in Jessup. Another theoretical 14th high school may be built in Troy Park, Elkridge, according to the Howard County Maryland government website, but this construction was pushed back due to fiscal concerns in the 2021 Capital Budget.

Though the location has caused debates, redistricting has been a controversial issue in Howard County for decades. The School Board released a PowerPoint describing their methods for attempting to strike a balance of optimizing space, keeping communities stable, and diversifying student populations for redistricting. Along with the PowerPoint, there was a survey to gather information about public needs.

2020’s struggle to redistrict the high school population was partly due to backlash from families not wanting to transfer into schools they viewed as worse than their current school. Despite the backlash, the county says that redistricting is necessary to keep the population spread out and diverse.

The new school also offers the opportunity for the county to be more sustainable. This new school will be a LEED school (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), which, according to HCPSS’s website, is “construction planning to ensure energy efficiency and environmental friendliness.

Wilde Lake High School’s Science Instructional Team Leader, Ms. Bell feels grateful that environmentally sustainable infrastructure is being prioritized. Though she says she feels somewhat disappointed at the fact that high school number 13 will be a lower ranked LEED school than Wilde Lake Middle School, she is still “hopeful that the certification goes through.”

Howard County will continue to debate zoning. Though talks so far have mostly focused on budgeting and environmental concerns, Jacelyn hopes that “they give it a good name, a good mascot, and some good colors.”