With the $1.7 billion bond on the ballot Tuesday, May 17, it’s a good time to look at what the Guilford County Board of Education has done with the $300 million bond passed in November 2020.
For 18 months the Guilford County Schools have had $300 million at its disposal to repair, renovate and build schools. So what has the school board done with the $300 million available? Not much.
According to the GCS 2020 Bond website, the furthest along any projects being paid for with that bond money is the design phase. The start date on other projects not in the design phase is “to be announced.”
The GCS 2020 Bond Dashboard states that $23.1 million worth of projects are under contract. According to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, $6 million of that $300 million has actually been spent.
If GCS actually has more than $2 billion in major repair, renovation and new construction needs, as stated repeatedly by Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston, then why has the school board sitting on nearly $277 million for a year and a half and why have the schools spent money on renovating the central office rather than schools?
It would seem that with all of those needs that as soon as the $300 million bond passed, projects would have begun. Even if you give the school board a couple of months to decide where the greatest needs were, the design phase would have begun in early 2021 and, now, 18 months after the bonds passed, there would be a lot of construction taking place.
If the $1.7 billion bond passes, the schools will have a maximum of 10 years to spend that money, which means the schools will need to spend $170 million a year plus the $277 million the schools have from the 2020 bond, which has to be spent by 2030.
At the rate the schools are currently spending, most of the $1.7 billion will remain unspent. Those who favored putting a smaller bond on the ballot noted that by having smaller bond referendums every couple of years, the time to spend the bond money would be extended, which would prevent a huge flurry of activity to spend the bond money before the bonds expire in 2032.