Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, fresh off the success of helping get a $15-an-hour minimum wage for school bus drivers and other county employees, is now calling for a $1 billion school bond referendum to be placed on the ballot for the 2020 election.

Alston said this week that the schools are in desperate need of money for repairs and construction and he said the time has now come for the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to act on the matter.

“We need to put the bond on the ballot and it should be at least a billion dollars,” Alston said.

In early 2019, the Guilford County commissioners voted to fund half of the cost of a school study meant to determine the facility needs of the county’s schools, with the school system paying the other half. While that study found a need of about $1.5 billion in construction, repair and other facilities needs, recent needs estimates according to some school officials are closer to $2 billion.

Alston said it’s clear that the school system needs at least $1 billion.

“They are in horrible condition,” Alston said of many schools in the county.

Alston also said that no one is ever thrilled about having to raise and expend such a large amount of money, but he added that currently the funds are badly needed.

In order for a school bond referendum to be placed on the ballot, it must be approved by a majority of the nine-member Guilford County Board of Commissioners.