For over two years, AIM leaders across the county have worked to secure funding to renovate two long-neglected elementary schools: Burnt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools. This year, Superintendent Smith made these two schools (the two highest poverty schools on the school construction list) his top priorities. However, we knew that wasn’t enough—we needed to show members of the Board of Education in a real way that citizens of Montgomery County support the Superintendent’s priorities.

On Tuesday, November 5, students, leaders, teachers, and staff from Burnt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools joined together, along with other leaders from AIM, before the Board of Education to demonstrate their united commitment to securing the best education possible for the children of Montgomery County.

With over 186 in attendance to stand with Burnt Mills and South Lake, the Board of Education had to open an overflow room to accommodate our energetic support.

Students and parents from the two schools testified about what they love about their schools. Sarah, a fifth grader from South Lake, told the Board of Ed, “Every morning, Ms. King, Mr. McKinley or Ms. Levy stop by my classroom to say good morning which makes us feel special.” For Gabriella from Burnt Mills, she loves that she has “great friends who stand up for me.”

Nevertheless, the physical facilities of these two schools are inadequate, in stark contrast to the warm community and excellent education found there.

A parent from South Lake asked the Board, “Did you know that we have only 3 girls and 3 boys bathrooms to serve all 897 students?”

A parent from Burnt Mills posed another question: “Kids have to eat lunch as late as 2pm because the cafeteria is way too small to accommodate the number of students in Burnt Mills. We are all aware that some of these kids do not get regular meals at home. How are they expected to concentrate in school on a hungry stomach?”

Gabriella reported, “In the room where I wrote this speech, the air conditioner was being held together with tape and propped up on boards. There is not central heating or air. Tiles were falling off the wall and there were tables and chairs and boxes on both sides of the hallway because there’s not enough storage.”

By showing up and standing together in support of new school construction for two of the highest-poverty schools in Montgomery County, the students and parents of Burt Mills and South Lake Elementary Schools demonstrated to the Board of Education their very real commitment to securing the best education possible for their children.

The message was received loudly and clearly: Montgomery County residents support Superintendent Smith’s commitment to school construction justice for Burnt Mills and South Lake. Our students deserve better!