Some students in Guilford County Schools have been showing up at home with gift cards given to them for things like good attendance and doing well in class. 

While students at some schools “win” those gift cards for their positive academic accomplishments, at some other schools, students may make straight A’s and show up for every class and not get anything but a pat on the back. 

Some parents, who think their kids should be naturally motivated to do well in school, don’t want their youngsters being driven by gift cards, while other parents and educators think that anything that gets the students fired up is a good thing.

The Guilford County commissioners had some questions about the gift card programs when Guilford County Schools Superintendent Sharon Contreras spoke before the Board of Commissioners at a recent budget work session.

Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue called it “Pay to Pass,” and said he wanted to know if that was really happening.

“I just want for the record, so the public knows what’s going on here – is that fact, fiction or what?”

“The district has no such policy,” Contreras told the commissioners, “but I notice there are many sites that create fictional information.” 

She added that individual schools could be offering such programs.

“Schools have, for decades, created their own incentives,” she said.  “And there are 128 schools – I don’t micromanage them and, say, ‘You can’t create programs.’   They give out movie passes. They give out all sorts of things.  I have no way of knowing every incentive that the school improvement teams come up with – but the district has no such initiative.”

Perdue asked if the money for the gift cards and other prizes comes from tax dollars or other funds.

“There are many ways,” she said, adding that the money could be from grant funds, money raised at school fairs, money donated by PTAs or other sources.

“I hope we all want students to graduate and have high graduation rates,” she added.