There is no doubt that some Guilford County Schools are in dire need of repairs.
So one question voters should be asking is: Why hasn’t the Guilford County school board spent the $300 million in bonds that were approved in November 2020? A lot of roofs and air-conditioning systems can be replaced for $300 million.
One possible answer, though sad, seems obvious. If the school board had spent the $300 million to repair some schools, the parents of the children at those schools would be less likely to see the need for a $1.7 billion school bond.
The very fact that the school board appears willing to sacrifice the wellbeing of children in order to help pass a massive bond is a good reason to vote against it.
But there are plenty of other reasons. One is that bond money has to be spent in 10 years, which means the $300 million will have to be spent by 2030, and if the $1.7 billion bond passes that will have to be spent by 2032.
So the schools will have to average spending about $200 million a year on school construction for the next 10 years. That would be the equivalent of the schools planning and building two Tanger Centers each year for 10 years. From conception to completion, it took Greensboro over eight years to build one Tanger Center.
The school board is simply incapable of spending that massive amount of money on construction responsibly.
There is also the question about what happened to the $10 million the Guilford County Board of Commissioners allocated to the Guilford County Schools for security. The commissioners used two-thirds bonds, which don’t have to be approved by voters and can be allocated quickly, to provide what was at the time said to be an immediate need for improved security. Three years later the schools reported that only $63,000 of the money had been spent.
If the schools can’t figure out how to spend $300 million when they say they have over $2 billion in needs and can’t spend $10 million on security, how in the world can the same organization be expected to responsibly spend $1.7 billion over a 10-year period?
It would be much more responsible for the Guilford County commissioners to tell the schools that after the plans on how the $300 million will be spent are approved, that the commissioners will put another bond on the ballot. Construction doesn’t happen overnight and the school board has already proven how slow it is to pull the trigger on starting construction projects.
Since there is no way that the schools can responsibly spend $2 billion on construction in 10 years, it would make a lot more sense to break it up into smaller amounts. With $2 billion to spend and a 10-year deadline, there is going to be a massive rush to get the money spent one way or another.