The issue of school security in Guilford County has been on the front burner lately, and there’s been quite a bit of tension between school leaders and county leaders on the issue.
This week, former Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Jeff Phillips weighed in on the debate and offered a strong critique of the way school leaders had addressed security and how they had handled $10 million in funds for that purpose that the Board of Commissioners had approved in 2018.
“My experience over the past several years is that GCS [Guilford County Schools] leadership simply doesn’t consider the improvement of school security a top priority,” Phillips stated in an email to the Rhino Times.
He said school leaders dragged their feet after the county voted to approve that $10 million to beef up school security.
“We literally had to beg for a request to allocate the $10 million we set aside for school security improvements in 2018,” Phillips wrote. “Almost a year later we finally received a cryptic request that had zero details. When we repeatedly asked for more information they were offended that we had questions about specifics. Due to our continued frustrations over their complete disregard for making the issue a priority, we began talking to school safety firms ourselves – trying to learn about school security solutions (essentially doing the job of GCS administration and their board).”
School officials said that the situation regarding the money is much more complicated than the commissioners have been presenting, and they argue that one reason that much of the money has remained unspent is because former Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing held things up.
According to Phillips’ recollection of events in recent years – during which he was in the middle of the discussions – school system leaders continued to stall repeatedly after multiple requests from the county were made to address the growing concerns from many parents and students.
The former chairman wrote that, once the pandemic hit in early 2020, school officials requested that some of the $10 million be spent for ventilation and HVAC improvements related to COVID-19 concerns.
Phillips stated that the county commissioners ultimately agreed to allow $5 million for that purpose.
“If they haven’t received any of the funds they’ve apparently never had that work done,” Phillips said. “The county never releases funds until work is approved to begin or they are being reimbursed for work already completed. Truth is, they were so obsessed with saddling our citizens with billions in debt over the past couple of years that they constantly took their eye off the ball where school security is concerned.”
One argument that Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras has made recently is that $10 million is a very limited amount when it comes to enhancing security across a large school system like Guilford County’s. She said in one meeting with commissioners that she knows of a school system that needed $20 million just to fix the doors on one school building.
Phillips argues the schools could be doing more with what they have.
“Even though the commissioners tried to bring school security front and center in 2018 and thereafter the issue has, effectively, been a non-issue to GCS ever since,” Phillips wrote. “Almost $5 million was also earmarked for radio communication system enhancements across all GCS campuses (a major security concern to this day). They’ve obviously dropped the ball on that need as well and are now conveniently suggesting that they’ve never received funds because of the past Board of Commissioners. The notion is laughable and disturbing, to say the least. I’ve never seen more shameful finger pointing and passing the buck when things go wrong in the classrooms and hallways of our schools.”
Phillips added that school system leaders have “kept their collective heads in the sand on school security issues for years” and he stated that “our kids, teachers, and staff continue to pay the price.”
Come on Contreras, there is no way a single school could spend $20 million on door security unless they put in bullet proof doors on every door in the school. Do you think we are that stupid?
I know right? 20 million on doors of one school. You could build a school for that.
AB Nelson – Contreras hires special interest groups who funnel money back to her packs. Look at the report that cost the county millions to figure out what schools needed rebuilt. It was done by a California consulting firm that didn’t talk to any county zoning or building departments. It’s a total joke and they got 300 million approved to spend on it. She can spend millions on nothing and our county residents are asleep at the wheel. Time to get her fired
It been time to get her fired not mention where is thee insurance money from the damaged schools during tornado 2018
Installing armed guards and metal detectors at entrance/exit points will pretty much eliminate the problem. The LEFT doesn’t want the obvious solution because it destroys their 2nd amendment narrative.
Sharon Contreras needs to be fired for total disregard of student safety. She didn’t spend county approved funds to protect our students and as a direct results a student was recently beaten by outsiders that broke into Southeastern High school. This is a direct result of her actions as should result in her been fired. Us parents won’t tolerate a school superintendent that doesn’t protect our children. I ask ever parent in the county to start protesting for her resignation. She destroyed NY schools why let her destroy ours.
When something happens like it had at other schools then what will be their response.
Contreras’s school security program is to defund the police and take our guns.
Go back to Syracuse. Cuomo would love to have you.
The citizenry can type their fingertips off and nothing is going to happen.Has anyone noticed that any and all issues of real importance and urgency get the shoulder?I pray to God that no horrific event happens in GC schools.If a tragedy does occur,then and only then will something be done to get rid of these third world type bureaucrats who are ruining our community.Contreas is a foolish mistake;both she and the fools who brought her here should be shown the door.Pray that God will protect our school children,very few others seem to be taking real steps to do so.
If this condition continues and some child or group of children is harmed Guilford County could be suited for soo many millions of dollars that it would be hundreds of years to pay for what happened. Greensboro is in damager by letting this situation not being taken seriously enough!!!
Contreras should have been gone. I appreciate Phillips’ view and totally agree, but he needs to realize that as “former” chair his opinion counts damn near the same as the rest of us peons. The clout went to the turds left on the board. Welcome back to average John Q. Citizenry when the Libtards control the boards.
It makes more sense to pull accurate information from current GCS leadership and current Commissioners and Chairs verse email of old elected official taking personal jabs of items that are NOT FACT
GCS will not provide accurate information because the superintendent won’t allow it. There is no accountability with this group. The excuses do not excuse and the explanations don’t explain!