Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

October 29, 2013

Many Maryland high schools close in size to ours

It seems that some recent letter writers are intent on dismissing the building of a new Allegany High School by claiming the most critical factor in determining the need for a new school building is the preservation of a football homecoming game. The fact that the current Allegany High school is the oldest high school building in Maryland and is highly antiquated for modern educational purposes is not even mentioned.

So, for a moment, let’s talk sports. These writers may be surprised to find out that according to the state sports governing body, the Maryland Public Secondary School Athletic Association (MPSSAA), there are 186 high schools which play interscholastic football.

Of these schools, 88 are considered 1-A and 2-A enrollment schools. These schools include Fort Hill, Allegany and Mountain Ridge. There are 98 larger enrollment schools in Maryland, which for sports competition purposes, are considered 3-A and 4-A.

So, for sports purposes, almost half (47 percent) of the high schools in Maryland are similar in size to our three comprehensive high schools. Compared to half of the high schools in Maryland, Allegany, Fort Hill or Mountain Ridge are NOT unusually small schools.

Many local new-school skeptics may also be shocked to find out that most of the new schools in the city of Baltimore have similar or lower enrollments as Allegany High School. In fact, Baltimore City has 13 1-A schools (the smallest) and three 2-A schools (the second smallest). Another shock might be to know that Baltimore City has only a TOTAL of five 3-A and 4-A schools (the largest schools).

Enrollment figures from the MSDE website MdReportCard.org indicates the following 2012 student body numbers from Baltimore City 1-A and 2-A schools: DuBois (410), KASA-Knowledge and Success Academy (442), Baltimore School for the Arts (373), FAST — Friendship Academy of Science and Technology (687), ACCE — Academy for College and Career Exploration (551), Forest Park (605), Northwestern (691), Frederick Douglas (789), Carver (934), and Patterson (1,069).

The involvement by our youth in such extracurricular activities as sports (football, soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, cheering squads, basketball, track, bocce ball, etc.), marching and concert bands, school plays, student body officers, class officer positions, debate clubs, stock market competition clubs, future business leader associations, chess clubs, and the myriad of other supplemental leadership and talent opportunities that smaller schools provide, is essential in building the future of our local community, which is our youth. Without these opportunities, Cumberland students will have fewer extracurricular and leadership opportunities than what those students have in Baltimore City.

I respectfully urge your letter writers to not diminish the importance of these opportunities for our youth by dismissive, short-sighted prejudices against a homecoming football game. Instead, building the new Allegany High School is all about adequately preparing our youth for the future.

Frank J. Clark

Cumberland

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