The Guilford County Board of Commissioners isn’t the Guilford County Board of Education, but the Board of Commissioners did sound exactly like a school board on the afternoon of Monday, Feb. 24.
That discussion took place on the first day of the board’s annual two-day retreat, when the commissioners had an in-depth discussion on school security and on $10 million in funds for school security that the commissioners approved in 2018 but in nearly two years the school board has not spent a penny of that money. Several commissioners have recently expressed frustration publicly that school officials have been slow to use that money. So the commissioners decided to move things forward.
At the retreat, the board voted 8-to-1 to assemble a “working group” to assess school security needs and bring back recommendations to the commissioners. The security study group will include two county commissioners, two school board members, representatives from the Greensboro Police Department, the High Point Police Department and the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department, as well as emergency response and fire officials.
Commissioner Alan Perdue, the former director of Guilford County Emergency Services, made the motion to assemble the group.
The only no vote came from Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, who said the Board of Commissioners was trying to do the work of the Board of Education.
“I am employing you to work with the school board,” Coleman said.
Perdue said this would help bring concrete recommendations to guide the commissioners and the school board on the best course of action. He said it will determine the most pressing security needs in the schools and help in creating a request for proposals to address those needs.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips said it was important to move forward with improving security in schools.
“We are already 20 months in since we agreed to use these funds,” Phillips said of the $10 million. “This has not been moving in the least.”
He said that at this point the new study needs to move briskly.
“Enough is enough,” Phillips said, “I’m not willing to just kick this can down the road for months on end.”
Commissioner Skip Alston agreed and said suggested a 45-day time limit for the working group to bring back results, and the board added that time limit to the motion.