Guilford County government spends nearly half of its budget each year on school capital projects and school operations, and one Guilford County commissioner is now proposing that the county explore a bold way to reduce one of those costs – by moving Guilford County Schools facilities construction and maintenance operations under the county’s facilities department.  

That’s massive change would certainly be a radical solution but Commissioner Alan Branson said this week during a work session and afte, that it’s a move that just might make sense for the county.

Branson has expressed concerns publically over school construction costs and other aspects of the schools facilities division. He said that some administrative departures at the top of the department have left an administrative void.

“If they can’t handle it, there is another alternative,” Branson said of the problems he’s been seeing with the Guilford County Schools Facilities Service Division for years.

He also said that, for a long time, he’s been hearing stories that were troubling. He said his issue isn’t with the rank and file workers in the schools facilities division but that his concerns were “solely with the top brass.”

Branson said it made sense for the county commissioners to take a look at streamlining operations in an area that has proven to be so costly for Guilford County government year after year.

Branson also said that he had been alarmed at the cost of some projects in the past, and, at a June 16 work session in the Blue Room of the Old Guilford County Court House, he said that he’s heard of instances where school facilities workers were told there was no money for a needed $30 part while the school system still had millions in the bank from capital funding that Guilford County government gives to the school system each year.

When asked if he was worried about the massive and complex nature of a change such as moving the Guilford County Schools facilities operations under the county’s facilities department, Branson said he was concerned about such a giant move but he thought the idea was certainly worthy of exploration.

County staff is studying some implications of the change and Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, at Branson’s request, has been looking at similar moves made in other parts of the state.

At the June 16 work session, Lawing told the board that, at this point, he has been able to get only very limited feedback from other local governments, but he said that his initial impression is that some streamlining could be beneficial if everyone involved bought into the idea.   However, it could be, Lawing said, “a disaster” if such a move was not welcome by all those involved.