On Thursday, May 28, Guilford County Manager Mike Halford proposed a county budget that increases the amount of spending on Guilford County Schools by more than any county budget in the past two decades.

In November, the voters of Guilford County elected a new, Democratic Board of Commissioners to run the county – one that includes a school teacher and a former school board member – and that board hired a new manager who’s now suggesting the large increase in school spending.

The budget, which could be changed by the Board of Commissioners before it’s ultimately adopted next month, calls for the county to give just over $226 million to the county school system for operations and capital improvements.  Even though it falls well short of what the schools requested this year, it’s still a greater increase than the schools have seen in a very long time.

That $226 million is in addition to millions more the county is spending paying back school bonds.

One sentence in Halford’s budget message in particular shows the budget’s solid commitment to the schools: “In recognition of the importance Education has in building individual and community success and, in turn, reducing disparities in health, income, and general wellbeing, the recommended budget increases operating and capital maintenance funding for the Guilford County Schools by $13.4 million – the largest annual increase in over 20 years.”

Halford went on to say that, though the Guilford County Board of Education will determine how to allocate the funding across the system’s priorities, his intent in the recommended funding is to provide “an additional $7.5 million for ‘base’ operating and salary increases” and an additional $5 million “specifically for increases to teacher supplement pay to help the schools attract and retain quality teachers.”

The commissioners are at a disadvantage when it comes to pressing their priorities on the schools because there have been times in the past when the county has given the schools money for a certain purpose and the Guilford County school board, which gets the final say as to how that money is spent, had different plans.