Educating For ‘An Everchanging World’
The March 17 issue of The Dispatch reported on the March 15 Worcester County School Board meeting, in which once again criticisms were raised about a particular high school library book. Speakers presented opinions on both sides.
I’m sure that all Worcester County residents want our schools to be “a safe, student-centered, educational environment in which our diverse community of learners develops positive relationships and is prepared for an everchanging world,” the stated mission of Worcester County Public Schools.
When we begin demanding review process on one high school library book, a memoir by a black LGBTQ person, I wonder what happens next? Will demands for the review process spread from high school libraries down to elementary school libraries? Will all books about LGBTQ children, and children with same sex parents be next? What about children living with only one parent, or being raised by grandparents? Don’t we need books that reach the ‘diverse community of learners’ that live in our county?
Parents can, of course, limit their children from borrowing specified books from the library.
Preparing children for our “everchanging world” means they need to understand all sorts of differences and learn to study, work and live with our diverse community.
Taxpayers Should Not Subsidize Sports Complex
On March 11, Mr. John Fager wrote a letter to the editor in this newspaper stating that I was on the wrong side of the issue regarding the construction of a sports complex in Worcester County near Ocean City. Earlier, I had written that both Hagerstown, MD and St. Mary’s County, MD are considering similar facilities. In his letter, Mr. Fager posed the question, “Do you think that tournament promoters would prefer to have events booked in Hagerstown and St. Mary’s County or Ocean City and the beach?”
Mr. Fager is an astute businessman, whom I respect. However, he missed the point. In three studies by the same consultant, it is clear that there is a potential for over-saturation of the region with sports complexes. In both the Worcester County study completed in 2017, and the Ocean City study completed in 2020, the consultant cautioned that county and town officials should be aware of the growth of similar facilities as competition to the one proposed locally. Now, we learn that there may be another sports complex built in Elkton, Md., which is even closer to Ocean City.
According to the local studies, there are certain factors that indicate the potential success of building a sports complex. The consultant points out that drive-time to major markets, local population base, number of households in the county, age distribution and income distribution are just some of the items to consider when planning such a facility. Below are some of those factors:
It is noted that St. Mary’s County is about a one-hour drive from Washington, D.C., and that Baltimore is two hours away. Ocean City is a three-hour drive from both.
In 2019, the population base within a 30-minute, 60-minute, 120-minute and 180-minute drive time to St. Mary’s County is reported as approximately 125,000, 416,000, 7 million and 13 million people, respectively. The Ocean City study has Ocean City as approximately 65,0000, 367,000, 851,000 and 9.2 million people for the same drive time periods.
Population base is significant for tournament promoters. In 2019, the consultant has St. Mary’s County population at 116,000, as compared to Worcester County at 52,000.
In 2019, the consultant reports 42,000 as the number of households in St. Mary’s County, while Worcester County is at 22,000.
The consultant has St. Mary’s County with a population spread of 76% of its people age 18 and over. and 24% under 18. St. Mary’s median age is 37 years. Worcester County’s spread is reported as 84% of the population at 18 and older, with 16% under 18. Worcester’s median age is 51.
The 2020 Ocean City study specifically points out that we may face market challenges and threats since we have a small year-round population, a high median age base and a low population base under the age of 18.
Under income distribution, the consultant has St. Mary’s average income at $107,000, compared to $86,000 in Worcester.
An interesting statistic is that in 2019, the average daily rate for a hotel room in St. Mary’s County was $102 per night, while it was an average of $161 per night from 2016 to 2018 in Ocean City.
If private developers want to take on the risks of building a sports complex, then let them do it. However, the taxpayers of Ocean City and Worcester County should not be asked to subsidize it.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.