After a long closed session held by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at the Thursday, May 18 meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to spend $100,000 to purchase Erwin Montessori School on Bessemer Avenue in Greensboro.

The school – along with two other schools in the city – was badly damaged in 2018 by a tornado and it has been abandoned ever since.

It’s kind of strange that the county has to purchase school buildings from the school system since the county pays to build the schools in the first place. However, that’s the way government works in North Carolina.

After the meeting, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said the board hadn’t decided exactly how the school would be used and he added that it will take a major effort to make the building habitable again.

“There will need to be a lot of repairs,” Alston said.

He said that county staff was currently assessing what repairs and renovations need to be undertaken before the structure can be put to use. After the tornado hit the school five years ago, the building was deemed unsafe for occupancy.  The Guilford County Board of Education announced last year that it intended to put the tornado damaged school up for sale.

Alston said the commissioners hadn’t yet decided the exact use of the school, but he added that it was his hope that it will become a facility that can provide housing for those in need – such as a place for those undergoing recovery from drug addiction or mothers with children who need transitional housing.

Alston said that he definitely does expect the site to play a role in the major effort this year to address the homeless problem in Guilford County, which Alston has put at the very top of the county’s priorities list for 2023.