The district operates 76 Schools: 41 elementary schools, 20 middle schools, 12 high schools, and 3 special schools/education centers. As of February 2013, a total of 52,000 students were enrolled.
Howard County consistently earns high marks in school performance metrics such as test scores and graduation rates. It gets high percentages at all levels of the Maryland School Assessments. In 2007 Forbes magazine rated Howard County as one of the ten most cost-efficient school systems in the USA
Albert B. Corvah, the Student Member of the Board.
Total enrollment − 50,969*
Elementary (PreK−5) - 23,804
Middle (6−8) - 11,462
High (9−12) - 16,555
Special School - 103
*Official count does not include PreK
American Indian / Alaskan 0.2%
African American 29.2%
Hawaiian / Pacific Islander 0.1%
Two or more races 6.2%
Attendance rate 2011−2012
Elementary: >95% Middle: >95% High: >95%
Graduation rate: 90.6%*
*4-year adjusted cohort
Howard County Education History
the Patapsco Female Institute
In 1723, Maryland enacted a bill requiring a school in each county. Rev Joeseph Colebatch, Col Samuel Young, William Locke, Charles Hammond, Capt Daniel Maraitiee, Richard Warfield, and John Beale were commissioned to buy land and build schools in what was then Anne Arundel County. In 1835, the state declared Ellicott's Mills a primary school district. In 1839 The Howard District of Anne Arundel County was formed. Early schools were funded and managed independently through towns, investors, the state and churches. Some early examples are St. Charles College, incorporated in 1830 near Doughoregan Manor, Patapsco Female Institute (1833) in Ellicott City, and Mount St. Clement (1867) at Illchester. In 1864, Maryland created the state board of education for public education, leaving counties to control their own school boards. The Patapsco Female Institute was the first women's school to receive State funding. After the civil war, single room schoolhouses within walking distance of communities were built throughout the county. In 1885, former Maryland Governor John Lee Carroll joined the school board along with J.T. Williams and John W. Dorsey. In 1894, Chairman Robert A. Dobbin and the remainder of the county school board were indicted for receiving money in excess of per diem.
In 1922, The State of Maryland authorized $600,000 in bond sales for Howard County expenses. A cap of $60,000 was placed on school improvement expenses, and $540,000 was required to be allocated to road construction. By the mid-1920s some children rode to school on private produce trucks. In 1928, the first County School Bus service started. During the period 156 Rosenwald Schools were built in Maryland for teaching African American children. In Howard county, the five-teacher school in Cooksville, the two-teacher Guilford school was constructed, and the one room Elkridge school.
Former Justice of the Peace and Coroner, Stanley E. Grantham served as board president until WWII. In 1937, The school system dropped the practice of charging students for bus fare to its schools, as well as transporting parochial students. It also dedicated its first classroom in Savage for "backward" special needs students, and implemented its first modular classroom to hold students until repairs could be made to an unsafe school. Future commissioner and board member Charles E. Miller starts his own bus service and vehicle sales to the County.
In 1938, many single-room school houses were sold to private bidders and multiple Elementary and High School projects were started using 45% Federal Emergency Agency grants used to reduce unemployment, and set fair wages. In 1939, the county issued its first school bonds, borrowing $107,000 for construction of Ellicott City Elementary, Clarksville Middle, Clarksville High, and Highland Colored School. From this date to present, the county has maintained public debt interest expenses for school expansion. It also consolidated all insurance under one broker, W Emil Thompson a candidate for state senator.
In 1941, hospital owner and land developer, Issac Taylor became board President. As early as November 1940, the board expressed concerns about selective service pulling away most of the male teachers for military service. The same year, Gun lockers were installed in the Ellicott Elementary Gym for the local guard, and the board terminated Norman Schussler for "unamerican" behavior and not wanting to serve his country. African American school teacher Effie Liggans Scott was released for working while pregnant. When conscientious objector Richard MCleary refused to salute the flag in class, the board made a policy to dismiss the student from school. By late 1944, School construction had been at a standstill and there was a shortage of qualified teachers. The board focused on teacher bonuses, and bus contracts.
At wars end, Eleanor M. Cissel became the president of the board. Her family was active as school bus operators in the county, and Charlie Cissel taught at the Lisbon agriculture school. The State board of education mandated classroom sizes reduced to 35 from 40 and the addition of a 12th grade. In 1946, future County Executive Omar Jones started as an Agriculture teacher. Physical education was funded for the first time in 1947, and the budget nearly doubled since the beginning of the war, without significant school construction or student population changes. In 1948, A single centralized county high school with busing was proposed, but the $1,000,000 cost was considered prohibitive. The only major program funded in the decade since the PWA money grants, was the agriculture shop at Lisbon which ballooned from $8,000 to over $18,000 in construction costs by 1949.
In 1949, John H Brown became the board president. After 10 years without school construction, the county awaited legislation for bonds that could be paid off in the 20-year design life of the buildings, leaving the county without debt by 1969. A single central High school design was modified to one that would serve three districts and plans for additions to Clarksville, Libson, and West Friendship were made at an estimated cost of $875,000. Newspaper publication of the school budget was refused, and replaced with a mimeograph supplied on request. It was also the first year that the school board met with representatives regarding the combined impact of schools with water, sewer, and roads. Four colored and one white schools without water were funded for new wells. School buses and drivers were inspected for the first time. The Board expanded to four members in May 1949 with the addition of Norman H Warfield, and a new position of County Superintendent was created and given with Warfield's vote to John E. Yingling. In 1949 Future land developer and County Executive Norman E. Moxley is hired to a new position as chairman of the school building commission. The school board remains self-elected by its own four members with one-year terms. By 1952, the first major subdivisions are started in Ellicott City, prompting the League of Women Voters to express concern. The school board noted that there was plenty of land in the county for schools, just little funding for new buildings. The planning board provided the first listings of building permits to the school board showing growth rates nearly doubling in three months. School salaries are raised to a base of $3,000 a year and student-to-teacher ratio is lowered to 33. In 1953, Maryland expanded the loans for new schools to $514,000, and driver's education classes began. In 1955 Charles E. Miller is elected President of the Board. In 1956 football is expanded from six man teams to eleven man teams with games to be played at Howard High School.
In 1965, the county implemented a .25% transfer tax to fund new schools and parks, netting $70,000 in its fist nine months. Howard County attempts to consolidate its offices in Ellicott City. The board of education declines, and offers to relocate to an existing vacant school.
The Howard County school system was segregated since the building of the Ellicott City Colored School in 1888. In 1938, African American teachers petitioned for equal salaries, Superintendent S.E. Grantham and the commissioners felt they could not allow an additional $7,500 in expenses, ending the effort. In 1940, a Federal Court mandated equal salaries which lead the board to offer an extra month's pay if the teacher's union would not litigate against them for equal salaries. In the urgency following the Pearl Harbor attack, Teachers from all races trained together on First-Aid for the first time. The racial equity less apparent when the board announced in September 1942, that students seeking clinic aid for syphilis could only use colored buses, because using a white bus was considered improper. By 1949, the Cooksville School had 79 students for one teacher. In 1952 Howard County operated 8 Elementary, 2 Junior High, and 3 High schools for 3,790 white students. There were 9 "colored" Elementary and 1 High school with 976 students. The school board recognized overcrowding, and noted that colored students would soon be requesting modern indoor bathrooms like other schools in the County. In 1954, Segregation was outlawed by the supreme court in Brown v. Board of Education. In November 1955 a Citizen's committee on desegregation is formed and asked to report its findings in 1956 for the 1956-1957 school year. The NAACP wrote the board asking why they were not following the Supreme Court decision. On July 13, 1963 the Board of education put together a plan to desegregate schools, which was put into effect in November 1963. Howard County eliminated one class of segregated students a year, taking 11 years to implement integrated classes.
With the development of Columbia, The school system shift's its emphasis on neighborhood schools. Future County Executive Charles I. Ecker is brought on as superintendent for Howard County schools. He served from 1974 to 1989.
In 1964, the developers of Columbia, Maryland envisioned an independent year round school system for its residents. A portion of the land bought by Rouse corporation was provided at no cost to the school system to build schools to accommodate the impact from the development. Howard County remained in control of the school system.
Laurel Woods Elementary surrounded with modular classrooms
As Columbia reached its maximum planned capacity, developers turned to the Eastern portion of Howard County served by public water and sewer for infill development opportunities. The Howard County School system increased substantially in size. Development in the county outpaced the number of seats available for students. In 2006, An adequate public facilities ordinance (APFO) was enacted. It temporarily limited development in elementary school districts only which were over 120% capacity. It still allowed allowed developers the ability to proceed with projects three years after submittal regardless of overcrowding. To keep up with demand, the school system developed a method of regular redistricting, moving students to Western schools with more capacity. The School system revived the concept of portable trailers in the early 1990s increasing to 50 units in 1995 and over 217 by 2013.
Alberton - Closed in 1939, with children consolidated to Ellicott City.
Alpha Colored School - Discontinued in 1938. Students sent to Cooksville Colored School.
Annapolis Rock School - One room schoolhouse built in 1894 and rebuilt in 1908 near modern Woodbine and 94. Closed in 1943. Sold to Jessie M. Sirk for $400.
Atholton School - A one room colored school house next to Locust Church given by John R. and Susie Clark in 1885. Students transferred to Guilford in 1939. School property bought for $200 by Locust Church. In 1941, and additional acre was not accounted for, then sold on a separate bid for $701 to Herbert M Brown.
Atholton High School - In 1948, a new 10 room high school was called Atholton Colored School was ordered. It was designed by Francis Thuman to be built in Simpsonville with a $280,000 budget. The cornerstone was set on September 25, 1948 by the Colored Masonic Lodge. Clarksville students were used to operate the bulldozers used in grading. Renamed at the request of students to Harriet Tubman High School in 1949. By 1953, the library, cafeteria and supervisor's office were all used as classrooms, a four room addition was recommended to relieve overcrowding.
Bethany School- Built on land given by C.W. and Emily Peddicord in 1898, Closed in 1940, sold for $1082 to the Bethany Married Circle Church who surrendered their bid to William A Wheatley.
Clarksville Elementary and Middle - The first school opened in 1920 dates to a building once the "Ten Oaks Ballroom". The next building was started in 1938 and a new site was selected because of "water runoff". The 4.5 acres of land bought from Katherine Dorsey and J Nicols. Miller was purchased from the school board for $2,800. New construction was started on 6 acres bought from John Easter for $1,800. A outside shop was built in 1943. The school is now the Gateway private school.
Colesville Colored School - A Rosenwald School located along the east side of Stevens Road. Water came from a bucket in a neighboring properties well as late as 1949. Converted to a private residence and destroyed in 2006 to develop "Hammonds Overlook Townhomes".
Cooksville Colored School - Thomas H. Hood and his wife, Sarah donated land for the school in 1867. A two room house served as the school and for church services until burned in 1922. A new one-room school was built to replace it. A new Rosenwald School was built on the site between 1925-1926 for $7100.00. In 1935 Cooksville became the first and only County African American high school by offering classes up to grade 11. outfitted with a portable classroom from Savage in 1939. A second portable in poor condition was planned to be towed to the site, but a new one was built in 1942 using National Defense Training money. In 1943, the Board allowed teachers to rent the top floor for apartments, and rented additional classroom space in the private house of Alonzo Lee. In 1949 one of the portable was moved to Atholton (Harriet Tubman) for Agriculture training. In 1956, the board delayed implementation of desegregation, but approved installation of indoor heating and toilets. The school closed in 1968, and was used by the roads department for stockpiling until 1978, when Executive Edward L. Cochran deeded the land back to the church.
Daisy Colored School (School House #5) - 2 Acres purchased in 1876 by Dennis and Leama Gaither. A log cabin was built in 1890 for the schoolhouse and was replaced in 1905 by the Daisy United Methodist Church with school services in the basement. School functions ceased in 1946.
Dayton Colored School - Built in 1878. Water provided by a bucket in a neighbors well as late as 1949. In 1952, Robert Louis Gaither appealed to the school board to rebuild the school after a recent fire. The school board chose to move children to Highland colored school. The school land was sold to Robet S. Gaither for $750 with Melville Scott & Sons reimbursing the board $2,700 for fire damages.
Dayton White School - Schoolhouse No. 19 - Built prior to 1860 South of Dayton along modern Green Bridge road.
Elioak School - Granted by the Gardner family in 1916. Converted to a storage building in 1941 and sold back to the Gardner Family for $300.
Elkridge Colored School - A one-teacher Rosenwald School built between 1925-1926 for $2450.00. It was heated with pot belly stoves. In 1952, the colored PTA asked for safer heating and after inspection from the fire marshal, E. Reid Bossom, the pot belly stoves were declared safe.
Elkridge High School - 45% funded with a 1935 Federal Emergency Agency grant requiring wages of up to eighty cents an hour for skilled labor. The building was designed by Clyde M. Fritz, architect of Baltimore's Enoch Pratt Free Library. The school was converted to Elkridge Elementary in 1952 as part of a consolidation effort, and replaced in 1992. The School was then planned to be raised sold to developers for a 46 unit housing project. The school was sold for $500,000 to the privately run Norbel school and is vacant by 2013. By 2011, Elkridge Elementary district was overcrowded, prompting another search for land for an additional Elementary school.
Ellicott City Colored School (1880-1953) 8683 Frederick Road. The first African-American schoolhouse in the county. Repurchased by Howard County in 1995 for $80,000 and restored as a museum.
Ellicott City Colored School - Combined four room Elementary and seven room High School proposed in 1944. Water secured from a spring next to Stewart's Store. School property bought on Fels lane in 1952. Bids were resubmitted after the first round submission date was changed without notice to select bidders. The School was funded with a $55,000 loan, costing the county less than one-third of the cost of a single addition on the Lisbon school. The school project was renamed Fels Lane Elementary in 1953. Later the school was converted to a police station. The school was converted into the Roger Carter Recreation Center in 1976 as part of the County's Hilltop subsidized housing project. (Roger Carter was the first African American School Bus Owner-Operator in the County starting in 1953). The building was demolished in 2011 and rebuilt as a $15 million recreation center to support a renamed subsidized housing project with an additional 204 units on the former school property.
Ellicott City School - Petitioned by Reuben D Johnson. Built on land bought from John G. and Rebbeca Rodgers in 1888, on School Street. Sold in 1939 to newspaper owner P.G. Stromberg for $500.
Ellicott City Elementary School - Started in 1938 on 6 acres bought from J William Martin for $4,000. A road to the school was built in 1949. By 1953, the library was converted to classrooms, a portable classroom was added,the science room and locker rooms were all converted to classrooms. County Executive J. Hugh Nichols attempted to re-purpose the building in 1981, but later sold it at auction. The property was converted to the Greystone Development housing and apartments on the 4.2 acre site. Developers Michael A Nibali, Emmettt Peake, Potapsco Valley Associates, and the Brightwater Group were all owners that were foreclosed on during the project.
Ellicott City High School The board accepted an 8 acre donation on Montgomery Road in 1938 from partner's Benjamin Mellor, and Charles E. Miller on the condition that the board pay their renter Mr. Hardman for lost crops. Hardman approached the board and demanded $600, a high price in January at the end of the depression. The board eventually paid $400, and request $2,500 from the public works administration to cover the costs for the crops and donated land. Hardman attempted to harvest the crops in June 1939 and was fined, Hardman later became a wartime School Bus contractor for the county. The School was built by the Charles C Sanford Company, and finished in 1939. Benjaman Mellor would partner with Emil Thompson in the firm of Hermann and Carr, selling insurance for all school buildings in the county. In 1952, future county executive Omar J. Jones becomes the principal.
Faulkner Ridge Elementary - School built for $1,010,000 in 1967.
Florence School - Built on land purchased by Joshua D. Warfield and Ligon families in 1872 and later owned by the Black family. Closed in 1943 after the death of J. Hubert Black's father. Future board member A Robey Mullinix outbid by Fred Duval for $650. Property forfeited to Raymond Duval after purchase. The remainder of the 253 surrounding acres became Larriland Farms when County commissioner J. Hubert Black swapped his family property for undeveloped Columbia farmland in 1963.
Fulton School - Pindell School - (Schoolhouse No. 22) Land acquired in 1862. Along Pindell School road and modern route 216. In July 1866, Methodist Episcopal Church South congregation established at schoolhouse. Closed in 1939 and consolidated to Scaggsville. C.M Ridgley bought the property for $750.
Glenelg School - Closed in 1942, students sent to Clarksville and Dayton.
Glenwood-Hoods Mill - One room classroom near Cooksville-Olney road closed 1939 with students consolidated to Libson. Extra language added to sale to prevent building from selling liquor. School sold for $400 to E.H Pierson.
Gorman (School house No.4) built prior to 1860 along present Gorman road, closed in 1939 and consolidated to Scaggsville. Mrs Grace Gorman Johnson, Daughter of Senator Arthur Pue Gorman, bought the property adjoining the family estate "Overlook" for $225 without a bid.
Guilford Colored School - (1876-1941) Land given by Williams, Clark and Rodgers in 1876 near Coleman-Thomas road. A two teacher Rosenwald School was built and sold in 1941 to Henry J.W. Sealing for $1,151.
Guilford Colored School - A 11 room school proposed in 1952 to built on Mission road. Colored PTA were told to hold off on roof leak repairs to their schools for 18 months until funding arrived for the new replacement school. The landscaping budget for Howard High that year exceeded $1,000. In 1953, the board requested a $225,000 loan from the state for the school and found the building site was to steep for the project. The school was built in 1954 and remodeled in 1982.
Highland Colored Elementary - cancelled in 1938 to reallocate funds to Ellicott City schools. An additional $500 given to the architect for non-completion. No further Federal grants were applied for. In May 1939, a delegation approached the board asking for the completion date of the colored school, and was told they had to wait until funds were available. A 66 student to teacher ratio was solved later that year by splitting the classroom in half with a partition. Construction started in 1952 following a fire that closed the Dayton school.
Highridge School (Welsh's Schoolhouse) - One room schoolhouse built on donated land from the Lemmuel Welsh family in 1890. Also held congregation of Emmanuel Methodist Church. Closed in 1939 with students going to Scaggsville. Welsh family attempted to buy property back for $500, but county went to open bids. Charles M. Ridgley bought the property for $1210 and the school was converted to a private residence which still is in use.
Jonestown Colored School - one room school consolidated to Dorsey Colored in 1939
Lisbon - First two room schoolhouse built in 1899. A 11 room high school is built and replaced in 1935 with a 20 room high-school. In 1939 the old and new schools are merged with a gym addition. Portable classrooms turned into library and agriculture classroom 1942. By 1948, the county had not built any substantial projects since PWA money grants of 1939. The exception was the Lisbon shop, budgeted for $8,000 in 1945, and built for nearly $18,000 in 1948 with cutbacks in design. In 1949, Harvey Hill, Richard Arrington and Thurman Warfield petitioned for land annexation for a playground. In 1952 The school was annexed again for $160,000 and closed in 1958.
Long Corner - One of the last single room schools still in operation in 1949.
Meadowridge colored school. Single room school. By 1949, enrollment was 79 students with one teacher.
Marriotsville School - Schoolhouse No. 10 - Built prior to 1860 near Old Frederick and modern Sand Hill road. Land granted by William Davis in 1874, and built by the Marriotsville garage with the top floor used by a church. The one room school closed 1939 and was sold to Peter Zepp for $300.
Mount View Colored School - Sold in November 1939 to William J McDonald for $500. In December, the Seymor Ruff bid for the Scaggsville school came in $800 over the maximum bid. The board announced the would use $800 from the sale of Mt. View to cover the difference.
Pfeiffer's Corner Schoolhouse - Built in 1883, and sold in 1938 to George Wehland for $575 as a private residence. Wehland had title difficulties because the school board was selling land bought in 1865, and there was no school board at that date. The school building sold again in 1940 to Vernon Titsworth for $500, and was moved again to parkland as an exhibit in 1988, with original land developed into housing.
Popular Springs - Land donated by David Burdette in 1866. Closed 1939 with children going to Libson. Sold in a no-bid transaction to George D. Fleming for $315.
Rockland School - single room school off Old Frederick Road given by George and Martha Voltz in 1889 sold fall of 1939 for $1025 to John F. Baer initially, then Henry and Mabel Weingand. Students consolidated to Ellicott City.
Rover School - Built on land donated by Evan W. and Sallie Ann Warfield in 1872. Closed in 1934, the board elected to sell the property to a Mr. George Amoss for $100, rather than return to the Warfield family.
Scaggsville single room schoolhouse built on land donated by Issac Scaggs family, closed in 1939. Public Works Building sold and moved for $5.00. Land sold to Daniel M. Murray Jr for $550.
Scaggsville Elementary School - 45% funded with a FEA grant in 1938. Clyde M Fritz was selected as the architect and Julius A Kinlein as builder. Built on 5 acres of the Brown farm bought for $2000 in 1939. The Board sued for a late completion of the school that jeopardized grant money in May 1939. The board withheld $3,090 from the builder, but did not return any percentage to the FEA.
Savage Elementary - (1938) The school traded land on route one, buying a new lot for $3000, and selling its old land for $300 to the Savage Manufacturing Company. The company mistakenly claimed there was sewer service onsite, leaving the county to also run new lines through savage to supply the new school site. By 1953, the school reached 335 students for the nine classrooms, and student were sent to Scaggsville and an extra classroom was planned on a second story.
Schoolhouse No. 2 - Built prior to 1860 along modern Mission Road.
Schoolhouse No. 6 - Built prior to 1860 along Bonnie Branch and modern Hurst road.
Schoolhouse No. 7 - Built prior to 1860 on Hill Street in Ellicott City.
Schoolhouse No. 15 - Built prior to 1860 near modern Long Corner Road and Schafferville Road in Popular Springs.
Schoolhouse No. 16 - Built prior to 1860 near modern Roxbury Mills (Westminster)road and Roxbury road North of Tridelphia.
Schoolhouse No. 17 - Built prior to 1860 along Woodbine road near Lisbon.
Schoolhouse No. 21 - Built prior to 1860 along modern Grace Drive chemical facility.
Woodstock School - Land bought in 1897, School closed in 1936. Land sold to Elston Seward for $100, and George E Peddicord for $75
^"Contact Us."Howard County Public School System. Retrieved on November 30, 2012. "10910 Clarksville Pike (Route 108) Ellicott City, MD 21042" - Driving Directions