Guilford County Schools plans to build a school near Colfax, but some residents in the area don’t want a school there – and are in the process of filing a lawsuit against Guilford County and Guilford County Schools to stop the school from being built on the current proposed site.
The details of the lawsuit – and basis for it – haven’t been made public yet. However, the Guilford County commissioners have been briefed on the expected suit, and some plaintiffs are upset that, on Thursday, Sept. 7, the Board of Commissioners voted to allow the project to move forward while knowing the lawsuit was in the works.
NC General Statutes state, “No contract for the purchase of a site shall be executed nor any funds expended therefore without the approval of the Board of County Commissioners as to the amount to be spent for the site.”
The Guilford County Board of Education approved the purchase of the land in July and, on Sept. 7, the school board requested Board of Commissioners approval to purchase the 27 acres made up of three adjacent properties on Boylston Road and Bunker Hill Road near Colfax for $2,543,600.
That night, after a closed session, the board voted unanimously on the following motion: “Pursuant to [NC General Statutes], approve the amount of $2,543,600 to be spent for the Guilford County Board of Education’s acquisition of the site for the Katherine G. Johnson K-8 School, as requested by the Board of Education, and approve associated budget amendments.”
Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said this week that the board had no problem taking the vote that allocated the money, even with a lawsuit coming.
“It doesn’t affect us,” Alston said of the impending legal action. “That’s before the school board.”
Alston said the commissioners are just doing their job of providing money to the schools in a timely manner as needed for projects, and he added that the lawsuit will either stop the project or not – but added that that’s something that will be determined later by the court.
Two sources familiar with the planned suit said that, in fact, Guilford County will be a defendant as well as the school board.
Alston pointed out that no speakers from the floor came out to the Sept. 7 meeting to object, but he did acknowledge that several of the residents in the proposed school area spoke out against a school being built at the site at an August meeting. At that meeting, many of the concerns regarded traffic and child safety.
Commissioner James Upchurch, who doesn’t approve the location of the school, said that he did not have a problem voting yes on the Sept. 7 motion.
“I’ve been on record that I think it’s a terrible location for a new school,” he said.
He added that the Sept. 7 vote was essentially one where the vote just meant that the commissioners agreed the price of the property was not unreasonable.
Upchurch said what really needs to happen is for school district lines in Guilford County be redrawn in a more rational manner.
Upchurch said that, regardless of his disapproval of the location, it made sense to vote for the Sept. 7 motion as a procedural matter.