Maryland Department of Planning’s School Enrollment Projections


Planning Assistance in Action

Alfred P. Sundara, AICP, Manager, Projections and State Data Center with Michael Bayer, AICP, Manager of Infrastructure and Development

Maryland’s public school enrollment increased in 2019 by 11,319 (1.3%); this increase was the highest in the last 11 years (see Chart 1). Statewide, public-school enrollment has grown by 57,174 or 7.3 percent between 2009 and 2019. With gains over the last 11 years, Maryland’s 2019 public school enrollment of 876,810 is its highest since 1976.   

The Maryland Department of Planning (Planning) projects public school enrollment for the next 10 years.  Under these projections, the state will see a big increase over the next few years, with declines in the middle part of the projection period, and a slight increase towards the end of the same period. Most of the growth is expected to occur from 2020 to 2022, with moderate growth anticipated from 2023 to 2024 and from 2027 to 2029 (see Chart 2).  Total public school enrollment in 2029 is projected to be 907,700 or 30,890 (3.5%) more than in 2019.   

Planning uses Grade Succession Ratio (GSR) methodology to prepare school enrollment projections.  GSR methodology requires historical data for each political subdivision on the number of live births and the number of children enrolled in public schools by grade.  

For these projections, Planning analyzes historical birth data for the years 1970‐2018 and historical school enrollment data for the period 1975‐2019. Besides historical data on the ratios of births and associated enrollment in kindergarten and first grade, Planning also analyzes historical grade succession ratios that reflect projected grade cohort survival for all other grades, from first to second grade and from eleventh to twelfth grade. Specific combinations of historic ratios are then selected that generate grade‐specific school enrollment projections consistent with the range of school age population-based projections of public school enrollment. Planning will be posting the 2020 projections soon, but you can currently view the 2019 projections

Each year, each Local Education Agency (LEA), or school district, is required to prepare an Educational Facilities Master Plan (EFMP).  Enrollment projections are a key element of the EFMP, as the projections represent future demand for school facilities, and the Interagency Commission on Public School Construction (IAC) evaluates each proposed school facility project based on projected student enrollment. 

Each LEA can complete their own district-wide enrollment projections every year and share these with Planning for review (the alternative is for the LEA to accept – and use – Planning’s projections).  If these local projections are within five percent of Planning’s numbers, the LEA may use them in their EFMPs.   

The state projections are completed at the LEA-level; local school facility planners project enrollment at individual schools and submit these to the IAC as part of their Capital Improvement Program (CIP) requests.   

Maryland’s school facility planning process kicks off each year with the enrollment projections in the spring and continues through the submittal and review of the EFMPs, which must be submitted to MDP each July 1.  Following this milestone, the IAC reviews the CIP requests as the annual CIP is generated.   

The IAC approved the final CIP allocations for FY 21 on May 14, 2020. 

To learn more about the State Data Center’s school enrollment projections, please Contact Al Sundara at Alfred.sundara@maryland.gov, and for more about the EFMP process, please contact Michael Bayer at michael.bayer@maryland.gov

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