The Guilford County Board of Commissioners and Guilford County Schools continue to provide ammunition to those who oppose the $1.7 billion school bond referendum on the May 17 ballot.
Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston has been leading tours of schools that are in need of repair. These tours bring up a lot of questions.
One is, if the facilities of Guilford County Schools are in such bad repair because the GCS doesn’t have the money to pay for the repairs, why hasn’t Alston led a tour of the GCS administration building?
Perhaps that is because, despite the lack of funding for schools, the GCS administration building has had recent renovations. School board members contacted said they were not told of the cost, but it is certain that the money spent on the administration building was not spent on schools.
In 2020, the voters of Guilford County approved $300 million in bonds for the schools, which has not been spent. Guilford County reportedly advanced GCS a couple of million, but the first bond sale was approved by the commissioners in February. The bonds can’t be spent until they are sold. So, if the needs are so great, why hasn’t that money already been allocated for leaky roofs, paint, doors, windows, heating and air-conditioning systems, new toilets and other bathroom facilities and a whole host of needs that don’t require architects and design teams to fix?
Even in 2022, $300 million is not pocket change, and quite a few schools could be brought up to an acceptable level for $300 million. But if schools were being repaired now, it would detract from the argument that $1.7 billion is needed immediately.
Finally, GCS announced plans to build a $21 million building for administrators and teachers to hold meetings. Perhaps that is needed, but it is not $21 million being spent on students or a facility that students would use. It is $21 million being spent on a facility for staff training and community education using COVID-19 relief dollars.
In other words – not a school but another building for the administration.
If the schools have money to do renovations in the main administration building, are in the process of building a new $21 million building for administrators and can’t figure out how to spend $300 million to repair schools, why should people vote to allow the country to borrow $1.7 billion for more construction projects?