Schools Need Financial Accountability

Dear Editor,

Financial accountability for the 2020 and 2022 school bonds is a major concern for taxpayers. Guilford County Schools (GCS) has not started out well with the $300 million bond. In a recent Board of Education work session, the GCS Chief Financial Officer estimated the cost of the 2020 bond will be $470 million, even after dropping three of the promised 11 projects originally listed.

Ensuring the funding is utilized in most cost effective and efficient manner is a major concern for voters. Voters expect GCS to utilize the funding in the most cost effective and efficient manner.  This money is coming out of the taxpayer’s pocket. The Rhino Times, July 22, 2022, reported Guilford County property owners would see the highest property tax rate hike in the nation estimated at 30 percent.

GCS facility needs are real. Our students deserve heating and cooling units that work, no leaky roofs, pleasing aesthetics and secure buildings.  Parents voted for the $1.7 billion bond because they were told every school would be touched and these types of issues would be addressed.  The 2020 bond explosion to $470 million means the $170 million overrun will most likely be subtracted from the $1.7 billion bond putting the promises made to the voters in jeopardy.

Inflation can explain part of the increase however, not a $170 million increase.  Part of the overrun is due to design elements and part is due to poor project management.  GCS needs strong project management to assure the $1.7 billion is utilized in the most cost effective and efficient manner possible making sure all schools, at a minimum, have major deferred maintenance issues addressed.  The current board has not performed their fiduciary duty in providing strong checks and balances on spending.  After financial policy changes June 2021, the superintendent has the highest spending authorization in NC including project change orders up to $500,000 with no reporting requirements to the board. Project change orders unchecked allow building costs to run rampant by expanding scope. Guilford County needs a board that will assure taxpayer dollars are not wasted and promises are kept to the voters!   Vote Andrew, Pratt, Carter and Welborn for Guilford County Board of Education.

Linda Welborn

District 4 Guilford County Board of Education Member