On Tuesday, Jan. 11, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston announced that he’ll meet with Smith High School Principal Melvin Marshall, take a tour of the high school and discuss the school’s repair and renovation needs.

This is one of many similar announcements to come.  Between now and the vote on May 17 on a $1.7 billion school bond referendum, you can expect to hear a lot about these tours.

On Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 4:30 p.m., Alston will take the tour of  Ben L. Smith High School at 2407 S. Holden Road in Greensboro,

The tour announcement notes that “Media is invited to attend.”  In fact, Alston hopes a whole lot of reporters will show up because one of the major goals of this event is to get the message out to the public that the county’s schools need a lot of major repair work.

In late 2021, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners approved putting the giant school bond package on the ballot in the upcoming primary election, and now many county commissioners – especially Alston and Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy, a teacher for Guilford County Schools – are doing all they can to help that $1.7 billion initiative gain voter approval. 

To accomplish that goal, county commissioners are trying to draw attention to the leaky roofs, HVAC issues, decaying walls, security concerns and the generally dilapidated conditions found in many of the schools in the county’s system.

The effort to raise public awareness started last year.  On Wednesday, Dec. 1, Alston and Commissioner Carly Cooke toured Page High School along with members of the media.

Alston said at that time that those who see the conditions in county schools will be downright shocked.

Alston got the idea for the frequent tours after a November experience in which he – and other Guilford County officials – got to be “Principal For A Day.”  Alston said that, on the day he got to be principal, he was amazed at how many repairs were needed at the school.  He then decided to take a series of tours – along with the media – to highlight some of the pressing issues in the system.

Alston cannot have more than three other commissioners with him on one of these tours without an announcement giving notice of a public meeting.  Anytime five or more of the nine commissioners get together on matters related to county business that meeting must be properly noticed 48 hours ahead of time and the public must be allowed to attend.  Alston can, however, legally meet in private with three or fewer other commissioners whenever he wants.