On Thursday, April 16, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is holding a meeting that could generate some fireworks due to a Guilford County Schools issue that’s sure to be discussed.
No, this item isn’t the major school bond referendum discussion that will be on the agenda, but instead it’s a request by the schools for about $1 million in tablet computers, an item that’s not on the commissioners’ meeting agenda.
The schools have made the request for the county to buy the tablets due to the coronavirus forcing Guilford County Schools classes online. The schools want the county to purchase the tablet computers directly since the county doesn’t pay any sales tax and that would save over $60,000.
Also, there’s some hope that the roughly $1 million will be reimbursed by the federal government in virus relief packages, but that isn’t a sure thing at this point.
Republican Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips and Commissioner Skip Alston butted heads last week in the meeting to set the agenda for the April 16 meeting. Alston said that, if Phillips didn’t include it on the agenda, Alston would bring the item up anyway.
Alston said this week that he still planned to raise the issue Thursday night.
At the staff meeting last week, Alston said he wanted to know why Phillips and other Republican commissioners on the nine-member board were holding up the purchase.
Phillips said that county officials have asked school officials some questions about the purchase but hadn’t gotten answers yet.
“Until there are questions answered, it’s not a hard no, but it is a ‘not quite yet,’” Phillips told Alston at the meeting last week. “We’ll work on that.”
“That’s not acceptable, Mr. Chairman, I think that’s bad leadership on your part,” Alston said.
Phillips said that, when Alston was chairman of the Board of Commissioners in the past, he, Alston, had had his leadership questioned as well.
“For weeks they’ve been asking for this,” Alston said, “and now you, as the chairman, don’t have the leadership ability to gather five votes in order to get the funding.”
Phillips said at that preliminary agenda meeting that he would consider the item for the agenda, “after I pursue some answers over the next couple of days.”
The April 16 meeting should hold some answers as to how the question is resolved.