Guilford County is gearing up for a new Citizens’ Academy – an annual class where citizens have an opportunity to learn a great deal about how county government works and a place where they can engage in exercises such as putting together a mock county budget.
The Citizen’s Academy, which is open to Guilford County residents, will consist of nine sessions beginning on Monday, Sept. 9. Registration is open. The deadline for applicants is Friday, August 30, but county officials note that space is limited, so those who are interested should apply as soon as possible. Information on the class can be found on Guilford County’s website.
The classes are largely overseen by Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion with a good deal of help from Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller. During the classes each year, students hear from department heads and commissioners and they debate the county’s priorities as if they were commissioners.
Last November, when the 2018 class had its graduation ceremony at a county commissioners meeting, graduate Elma Hairston spoke and said the academy had been “enlightening, enchanting and excellent.”
The purpose of the Citizens’ Academy, according to the new course description, is to learn how county government works and see how it sources and uses funds. The course is also meant to develop a pool of interested individuals to serve on future boards and commissions as well as to foster leadership. In the past, some Citizen’s Academy students have gone on to run for county commissioner and for other government offices.
In 2019, the sessions will include an introduction to local government in North Carolina and an overview of the county’s organization, budget and strategic plan. There will also be presentations by Guilford County department heads.
The classes will include some site visits to county operations.