As the Guilford County Board of Commissioners enters the final stretch of negotiations on the county’s fiscal 2023-2024 budget – scheduled to be adopted at the board’s Thursday, June 15 meeting – one huge question remains.

How much additional money in operating funds will Guilford County offer the schools?

The Guilford County Board of Education asked for $101 million over the amount the schools got in the current budget adopted last year, while Guilford County Manager Mike Halford, in his proposed 2023-2024 budget, offered them no additional money for operations over what the schools got last year.

No new dollars for school operations is not the same thing as no dollars at all. Last year the schools got about $245 million for operations.  Guilford County Schools will still get that amount and some additional dollars in the new budget that will go into effect on July 1.

The school system is also now getting money from a $1.7 billion bond that voters approved – and the commissioners plan to start setting aside tens of millions of dollars aside for debt repayment for the coming year and years after that.

Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alstoin said on Wednesday, June 7 that the schools would get some additional money for operations but added that that number is still up in the air.

“I don’t know what the board will decide,” Alston said, adding that the schools won’t get $101 million in additional funds over last year.

“They won’t get 20 million either,” he said.

At a work session this week, several commissioners tried to coax out a reasonable number reflecting the schools actual needs.  There was never a clear answer provided.

Commissioners James Upchurch and Pat Tillman told the Rhino Times that they were flabbergasted when they saw that the school board had requested over $100 million in new money.

Several county officials said that some commissioners were ticked off because that request meant that the commissioners could not “fully fund” the schools no matter what they did.  Fully funding that sky high request would mean putting a whopping 14.5 cent property tax increase in the budget in a year when Alston had publicly promised there would be zero tax increase.