The days of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners giving the Guilford County Schools everything the school board asks for are clearly over.

This year, the Guilford County Board of Education requested a $55.5 million increase for the school system’s operating and capital budgets for fiscal year 2024-2025, which begins July 1; however, the county manager’s proposed budget presented on Thursday, May 16, calls for the county to give the schools an increase of only $8,371,927.

The Board of Commissioners could increase that amount – in fact, it’s a good bet they will – but, even with a few extra millions thrown in by the board before the final budget is adopted in June, the final number will get nowhere near what the schools were requesting.

Of the $8 million and change increase proposed for the coming fiscal year, the county is allocating just over $5.87 million for operations – such as salaries and paying heating bills, etc. – while $2.5 million is to be used for capital projects such as building repairs and buying new HVAC units.

In his annual budget message to the commissioners, County Manager Mike Halford stated that “Normal revenue growth next year will not support the more than $55.5 million operating and capital budget increase that has been requested by the Board of Education.”

  He said that fully funding that request without additional revenue, would mean “eliminating 30 county departments, whether or not those departments provide mandated services.”

It’s important to remember that the $55.5 million request is the increase requested by the school system. The recommended budget includes $266 million for Guilford County Schools’ operating budget.  Roughly 45 percent of the county’s budget goes to education (which includes funding for Guilford Technical Community College). Halford said he determined the amount of the increase by keeping that percentage the same this year as last year.

The school system gets money each year from the federal, state and county governments, and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston has been leading an effort to get the cities and towns of Guilford County to help fund the schools as well, however, so far, that effort appears to be going nowhere.

The commissioners will put a quarter-cent sales tax increase option on the ballot this November, and they will pledge for that additional estimated $25 million each year will be used to increase salaries in the school system.  However, the citizens of Guilford County have never voted for a sales tax increase before.