Never in the history of Guilford County government has the difference been greater between the Guilford County Schools’ funding request and the amount of money recommended for the schools in the county manager’s budget proposal than it is this year.

For operations, the schools requested $101 million more than the system got last year and Guilford County Manager Mike Halford recommended that the schools get a zero dollar increase.

The proposed budget recommends $245 million for school operations, which is the same amount the county gave the schools for that purpose in the budget adopted last June.

However, as they say, it’s not over until it’s over, and, when it comes to county budgets, it’s not over until the Guilford County Board of Commissioners says it is.

What’s going on right now with school funding is likely a budget negotiation version of the good cop/bad cop ploy – where Halford is the bad cop and he is setting the scene for Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston (along with the board) to be the good cop who comes in and makes things better by offering the schools additional money.

Since Halford proposed no increase for school operations, any increase by the board will be welcome.

Hours after Halford proposed his budget, Alston told the Rhino Times that the school system will get some additional money for operations this year in the commissioners’ budget.

“But it won’t be $101 million more,” Alston said.

In fact, it’s not even likely to be close to the request.  But there will be some additional money for salaries, paying the utility bills and other things that go into running the school system with over 125 schools.

Alston said the manager’s recommendations are just that – recommendations – and now the Board of Commissioners makes the call.

The commissioners were truly stunned earlier in the year by the giant increase in funding the schools requested. Raising that money would have amounted to a 14-cent tax increase in a year when Alston has publicly stated that he wouldn’t support any tax increase at all.

Even Commissioner Pat Tillman, who was serving on the Guilford County Board of Education at this time last year, said he did a double take when he saw the schools’ ask.

“When they sent that $100 million request, I was like, ‘come on,’” Tillman said. “It’s like Gov. Jim Martin used to say – ‘You can have anything you want, but you can’t have everything you want.’”

It will be interesting to see how much additional money the Board of Commissioners ends up giving the schools in June.