Boundary Studies

The boundary change process is intended to be as supportive as possible for students, families, staff, and the greater community.  The process is guided by Board of Education Policy and Superintendent’s Rule 1280.  Below are some frequently asked questions about boundary changes in BCPS that we hope will increase community understanding and support of this important function.

Current Boundary Studies:

Study Name Study Phase
2021 Northeast Area Elementary Boundary Study  IMPLEMENTATION
2023 Central and Northeast Area Middle School Boundary Study  IMPLEMENTATION 
2023 Central Area Elementary Capacity Relief Boundary Study  IMPLEMENTATION 
 2023 Northwest Area Elementary School Boundary Study #1  IMPLEMENTATION 
 2024 Northwest Area Elementary School Boundary Study #2  PLANNING
 2024 Holly  Manor Community Boundary Study  PLANNING
 2024 Greenleigh Community Boundary Study  PLANNING

When does BCPS consider boundary changes?

  • To establish a boundary for a new school or an existing school under construction that will result in a change in SRC
  • To establish new boundaries in anticipation of a school closing (See Policy/Rule 1280).
  • To maximize use of available space in schools
  • To align school feeder pattern areas
  • To respond to a significant change in an academic program

Does BCPS redistrict frequently?

We recognize that boundary changes can be disruptive to students and concerning to families; therefore, we engage in the process only when it is evident that a boundary change may help support one or more of the considerations noted above.  We are also guided by the principle that, to every extent possible, a child will not experience a boundary change more than once while attending any one BCPS school.

How are new boundaries determined and how long does the process take?

The boundary change process has four phases and takes approximately one year to complete.  BCPS boundary studies may be conducted in either the spring or fall and are typically completed at least four months prior to going into effect:

Phase Duration Description
 Planning  2-3 months A steering committee of principals, staff specialists, and administrators carefully assess the conditions that have triggered the need for a boundary change and identify key outcomes, timelines, and potentially affected schools.
 Study  3-5 months A boundary study committee with representatives from each potentially affected school meets regularly, reviews detailed maps, examines student enrollment data and other information, and presents a range of options to the greater community for consideration and feedback.  
 Decision  2-3 months The superintendent presents the committee's recommendation to the Board of Education.  The Board holds a board hearing to gather feedback and then votes to adopt a new boundary.  BCPS school boundaries cannot change without Board approval.
 Implementation  3-5 months After the adoption of a new boundary by the Board, the steering committee plans and implements effective communications with student families and stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation of the new boundary.

How will I know if my school is involved in a boundary change process?

Principals will notify communities that the schools will be involved and represented in a boundary study process at the start of the boundary change planning process about three to five months prior to the convening of the boundary study committee.

Who serves on the boundary study committee and what does the role entail?

A boundary study committee is appointed by the Superintendent with input and recommendations from participating school principals and Executive Directors of Schools.  The committee consists of equal representation from all involved schools and includes:

  • a teacher from each of the affected schools
  • two (2) parents from each of the affected schools
  • a representative of the Board's Area Education Advisory Council that serves the schools included in the boundary study. Note that a study may include more than one Area Education Advisory Council.

Principals serve as nonvoting members and provide information to support the process. Committee members are asked to be as open as possible and to resist representing their personal interests and instead focus on the interests of all children that will be affected by the boundary process. Members commit to attend typically between four and seven meetings and spend time both in and outside of meetings carefully considering information and providing relevant insight into neighborhood considerations.  They also attend community public information sessions to help explain the committee’s work and engage in study-related conversations with members of the public.

How may I get involved in the boundary study process?

BCPS offers many ways to get information and engage in the process:

  • Persons interested in volunteering as a committee member should apply via a survey link established for each study. Volunteers should be able to commit their availability to the study calendar and be open to serving the interests of all involved schools.  Applicants will be reviewed and selected by participating principals and Executive Directors, and approved by the Superintendent of Schools per Rule 1280. 
  • Visit the boundary study Web site regularly to view all information that is provided to the committee and other updates regarding the process.
  • Watch boundary study committee meetings live online – as they happen or recorded for later viewing.
  • Attend boundary study committee meetings – meetings are open to the public; however, participation is limited to committee members.
  • Attend public information session/s to review in detail the committee’s draft recommendations and engage in conversation with staff and committee members about boundary change considerations.
  • Participate in an online survey to provide input and comments on the committee’s draft recommendations.
  • Submit comments and suggestions to the boundary study committee. A comment submission form can be found on the boundary study website. All comments received are public record and are periodically logged and posted to the Web site, including a name, date, and time of submission.. Please avoid including personal information (e.g., phone numbers, student names, etc.)  The comment period is open for the duration of committee meetings.
  • Attend Board meetings and participate in general public comment and/or write to the Board.
  • Attend the Board’s public hearing specific to the boundary change decision under consideration.

What do members of the boundary study committee consider as they develop recommendations?

To develop a recommendation that in implementable, effective, and successful, the boundary study committee may consider:

Primary Considerations

  • Efficient use of capacity in affected schools.
  • Maintaining or increasing the diversity among schools to reflect the diversity of the region and the school system.

Secondary Considerations

  • Maintaining the continuity of neighborhoods
  • The impact of transportation and pedestrian patterns on students
  • Minimizing the number of times any individual student is assigned to another school
  • Long-term enrollment and capacity trends and future capital plans
  • Location of feeder school boundaries and continuity of feeder patterns
  • Elimination of existing satellite boundaries (attendance areas of schools that are not connected to the main boundary)
  • Phasing-in boundary changes by grade level for high schools

Other considerations:

  • Natural boundaries such as reservoirs and rivers and major infrastructure barriers such as railroad tracks and highways
  •  Other considerations that may be specific to the goals of a particular boundary change

Is there any provision that would allow my child to stay at our current school after a new boundary goes into effect? 

BCPS does not exempt redistricted addresses from a boundary change process. If a child will be a fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, eleventh, or twelfth grader when a new boundary is implemented, students are permitted to stay at their current school under the special permission transfer provision and process.  Please note that transportation is not provided. (See BCPS Policy/Rule 5140).

How are the boundaries for elementary, middle, and high schools related? 

Boundaries at each level – elementary, middle, and high – are independent from each other. However, when possible, BCPS attempts to align boundaries so that either an entire school zone or neighborhoods of families within the zone can stay together as they progress to the next level school in their community. This said, boundary changes at each level are independent of the others.  Changes in elementary boundaries, for instance, do not result in a change to middle school boundaries.


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