Guilford County Schools has two pools of money from school bonds –  $300 million from the 2020 election and $1.7 billion from the May 2022 election for a grand total of $2 billion.

Now, nearly two years after the 2020 bonds passed, a Joint Capital/Facilities Committee has been formed to oversee the expenditure of the $2 billion and try to address expected cost overruns.

The committee made up of county and school officials met last week for the first time when school staff and consultants briefed the committee on current school designs for the 2020 voter-approved projects.

Site work on six of those projects is expected to begin by the end of the month – and staff and industry experts spoke to the committee about cost concerns due to inflation, supply-chain issues and labor shortages among other factors.

When Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston named the commissioners to serve on the committee, he only put Democrats on the committee.  Republican Commissioner Justin Conrad said that suggested to him that Alston didn’t want anyone asking “the hard questions” about estimated large cost overruns for school projects.

The members of the committee include Alston, who’s co-chair, and Commissioners Kay Cashion, Carly Cooke and Carlvena Foster, as well as Guilford County Manager Mike Halford.  Board of Education members serving on the committee include Deena Hayes, who’s co-chair, and Bettye Jenkins, Winston McGregor and

Pat Tillman.  Guilford County Schools Acting Superintendent Whitney Oakley is a member as well.

The current plan is for the committee to meet monthly, at least through December.

Most of the early discussions will be on how the school system should spend the $300 million approved by voters two years ago, as well as how to deal with what are estimated to be large cost overruns when compared to the initial estimated costs of those projects.

Alston said that, when deciding the membership of the committee, he didn’t think along political lines but instead only considered which commissioners would be most suitable due to experience with education and other factors.

Alston also said that other county commissioners – and anyone else – are welcome to attend the meetings.

“The meetings are public,” Alston said. “Anyone can come.”