VIDEO: Friday Morning Protest in Front of Edgewater Elementary School
Have the citizens of South County suddenly gone all “Occupation Edgewater” on us?
The dozen or so parents who stood on the corner of Washington Avenue at Mayo Road in Edgewater this morning were protesting one thing and one thing only: getting a new school built in place of the 60-year-old one that is there now.
At the beginning of the year, the Edgewater Elementary’s PTA, led by Jenny Corkill, gathered concerned parents and started to go to Board of Education meetings to plead for a new facility. There was a lot of talk that the building harbored unhealthy mold that was making students and faculty sick.
More after the video:
Typically, the Board of Education forecasts construction out six years. Edgewater Elementary had made it onto that construction budget for a rebuild in 2016. But when the final budget from County Executive John Leopold came out in April, there was no funding line for it.
If you think the Edgewater parents were not satisfied with a start date of 2016, imagine how they felt knowing that now their school wouldn’t be on the list until at least 2018—or beyond.
Not happy. Very unhappy. Aggravated. Peeved. Betrayed.
There is not a lot of flexibility in who sits where on the county’s construction improvement plan. Each school is visited by a team of professionals who gauge conditions and prioritize schools for modernization/revitalization, renovation or rebuilding.
A few years back, the two oldest schools in the Anne Arundel County Public School system were:
- Edgewater Elementary, constructed in 1953 and serving about 500 students; and
- Belle Grove Elementary, built in 1953 and serving fewer than 200 students.
Surprisingly, Belle Grove got a complete rebuild recently. In fact, just last year they cut the ribbon on their $22 million facility serving about 200 students.
Meanwhile, Edgewater Elementary, which has barely seen any upgrades lo these past 60 years, was barely making it on to the school systems Construction Improvement Plan (CIP)—this even though the school was serving over twice as many students.
So parents came out to protest.
They aren’t alone. Also ready to rumble are parents from further south, including families at Shady Side Elementary, which had been on the school’s CIP for 2013, but were also not funded under the Leopold budget, also pushing them back to at least 2018.
Shady Side was built in the early 1970s and services about 450 students. Lothian Elementary was on the list and stayed on the list. Students at Lothian will open the doors to a new school in 2014.
For the angry parents in South County, Facebook page has been created, complete with carpool schedules and parents venting their frustration at a budget process that seems to continually forget about the needs and desires of the residents who call South County home.
One mom wrote to the South River Source, “South County is getting all fired up for the County Council Meeting at Old Mill High School Monday night. There is quite a bit of buzz within all four feeder schools down here. Someone even created an ‘event’ on FB!”
The meeting at Old Mill in Millersville will begin at 7 p.m. on Monday.
The County Council may restore funding for the two South County schools, but they will need the votes of all seven council members. In addition, they will need to look in other areas of the budget to cut because they are not permitted to seek out additional revenue or add to the bottom line that Leopold has delivered.
County Councilman Jerry Walker (R-Crofton and South County) has already stated on the record that he supports restoring these schools to the CIP. Whether he can convince three to six other council colleagues remains an open question.
But one thing is for sure. When government isn’t serving you, the Founding Fathers came up with a pretty neat way of resolving the problem: elections.