The Guilford County Board of Commissioners and Guilford County Board of Education have been having some disagreements lately – but all those disagreements could be solved by simply raising $2 billion for school repair and construction.
Actually, the grand total that school officials say the system needs comes out to just over $2 billion – however, if the commissioners (read: taxpayers) provided only $2 billion, the schools, no doubt, wouldn’t complain.
The problem, said Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson this week, after he and other commissioners met with school officials, is that the county doesn’t exactly have $2 billion burning a hole in its pocket. He said he and other commissioners are exploring the possibility of, instead, raising $700 million to $750 million for school needs.
That’s not everything school officials want, but it’s not exactly pocket change either.
Branson said he believes that providing adequate school funding is important but he added that he and some other commissioners would like more information before accepting a number that amounts to $2 billion and change.
For one thing, Branson said, he wants much more detailed information.
“I would like to see a list of inspection reports on all the schools,” he said, listing a lot of other information he’d like to see as well.
Branson said he often feels as though the media and others jump to conclusions when it comes to facility problems at county schools. He said the school system does clearly have a great many needs but he said that some of the complaints he’s heard are misguided or overblown.
Branson also said that school needs must be addressed in a rational and cost effective way rather than just by throwing money at a problem. For instance, he said some current plans he’s seen call for expensive repairs at some school buildings that are scheduled to be torn down in the not too distant future. He said that doesn’t make financial sense.
Branson also said that, while mold is certainly a problem in some school buildings, he feels it’s been somewhat overblown.
“Every building in Guilford County has some mold in it,” Branson said. “Your house has some.”
Branson has argued that a hike in the county’s sales tax might be a better way to raise money than a bond referendum paid for with a property tax hike. That way, he said, the burden doesn’t just fall on the county’s property owners.