The Guilford County commissioners sound like they’re starting to believe they are trapped in the play “Waiting for Godot.”
Only, in this case, they aren’t waiting for Godot – they’re waiting to see the results of a $1-million school facilities needs study that Guilford County helped fund. The board initially expected to see results from the study in September 2018, but that was not to be, and, after some public complaints on the matter, a joint Guilford County Board of Commissioners and Guilford County Board of Education meeting was scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 10 – however, county officials got word from school officials this week that the meeting would have to be rescheduled.
Some county commissioners were dismayed at the cancelation of the meeting that they already consider four months late.
Guilford County Commissioner Justin Conrad said he received an email from Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing stating that the schools had requested to reschedule because a school board member couldn’t make it on Jan. 10. Conrad said he replied back to the manager in an email that he believed the county and schools should hold the meeting anyway.
“I replied that I felt like we should move forward with the meeting if one member couldn’t make it,” he said. “This meeting has been scheduled for several weeks. To cancel a meeting like this out of the blue is concerning.”
One year ago, the two boards agreed to undertake the major study to discover the school systems facilities, security and redistricting needs by hiring Tallahassee-based MGT Consulting Group, with the county and the schools each paying just over $500,000.
The county commissioners expected to hear the results in September. There was a preliminary briefing in October but that was simply a revelation of a small subset of some early data.
According to Conrad, if a school board member couldn’t attend the meeting planned for Jan. 10, fellow school board members could fill that board member in later. Conrad said it wasn’t necessary for the county or the schools to vote or take action at this meeting but it should be held.
He said the commissioners and school board members have jobs and responsibilities and, in his case at least, it’s hard to find good times to meet.
“I had marked this time off and scheduled it,” Conrad said, adding that he didn’t know if he would be able to make it to the meeting at a future date.
Logistically, it’s hard enough to find a time for a special meeting of just the Board of Commissioners. When the diverse schedules of the school board members also have to be accounted for, that makes it doubly difficult.
Commissioner Hank Henning expressed his dissatisfaction with the study result delays adamantly and publically – back in early October. Now, October, November and December have passed and it’s a new year.
This week, Commissioner Skip Alston said he was puzzled about the delay. Alston said he wasn’t clear if one school board member or more couldn’t make it on Jan. 10, but he added that Guilford County needs to know the results so the board can make important upcoming financial decisions related to school spending.
Wanda Mobley, director of communications for Guilford County Schools, in a response to a question about the reason for the meeting’s cancelation, wrote in an email, “The joint facilities committee is experiencing scheduling conflicts that have necessitated finding a new date.”