Two sayings are “There’s no harm in asking” and, from the Good Book, “Ask and you shall receive.”

The first may be true when it comes to asking for things from the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. However, the commissioners sadly do not always grant requests.  Guilford County Schools officials certainly learned that lesson on Thursday, May 18 when Guilford County Manager Mike Halford made his budget recommendation which offered the school system “only” $245 million for operations.

This is not the final budget and there’s no question that a lot of school employees and advocates will show up at the Thursday, June 1 meeting when the commissioners take input from the floor.

Last year at this time, school officials got basically everything they asked for and they also had access to $2 billion in bond fund money to use for capital projects.  Maybe all that positivity made the Guilford County Board of Education inclined to ask for a $101 million increase in operating funds from the county. Much of that money was to be used for increasing the salaries of the school’s “classified” employees such as bus drivers, janitors and cafeteria workers who are typically not paid well.

Of the $101 million dollar requested increase, Halford recommended that the schools get an additional $0.00 in fiscal 2023-2024.  The $101 million increase requested was, to use a kind word, silly.  So, school officials knew good and well they wouldn’t get what they asked for – but they are, on the other hand, probably surprised – and upset – that the manager offered no increase.

It would not be surprising at all – given how school-friendly the current Board of Commissioners has been – to see them put a little extra into the schools’ operating budget before a final county budget is adopted, but it is certainly not going to be remotely near a $101 million increase.

The county is also exploring ways to get the State of North Carolina to fund the schools more generously. Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston said earlier this year that he had been discussing the matter of state funding with state representatives.

Also, Halford’s budget includes the following sentence in bold. “I recommend that over the next several weeks the Board of Commissioners engages in additional conversation with the Board of Education and [GTCC’s ] Board of Board of College Trustees regarding their requests, the latest information regarding state and other funding for each institution, and the county’s final resources.