If you think the price of eggs has been increasing, you should see what inflation is doing to the Guilford County Schools construction projects – many of which were conceived when inflation and interest rates were next to nothing.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the bank after the COVID-era when the county’s voters, in 2020, approved a $300 million school bond referendum and a couple of years later when those same voters approved a historic $1.7 billion school bond referendum.

The funny thing that happened is that the cost of just about everything related to construction went up and so did interest rates. Which meant that the school system projects started to come in more costly than predicted, and, simultaneously, the county realized it would have to pay more on the giant debt’s interest than it planned because interest rates are now higher than predicted when the bonds passed.

So, it’s bad news all around.

School costs and construction priorities will be a part of the discussion when a group of Guilford County commissioners – including Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Skip Alston – meets with Board of Education members and school administrators and facilities staff at a meeting between the county and the schools next week.

The Guilford County Joint Capital / Facilities Committee has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday, April 24 at 3 p.m. in the large John McAdoo Conference Room on the third floor of the Truist Bank Building at 201 W. Market St. in Greensboro.

Guilford County voters approved the $2 billion for the school board to use, but, in order to spend a dime of that money, the commissioners must approve the expenditures.

Alston said he feels the county commissioners are providing good oversight on how the school board is spending the money, but he added that he’s been alarmed by the increasing cost estimates he hears when the two bodies meet, as they will next week.

“I don’t like the numbers I see,” Alston said, adding that he doesn’t feel the mounting expenses are the fault of the school system, but instead, he said, are part of the current macroeconomic landscape.

“We ask a lot of questions to make sure they’re doing all they can to keep cost down, and I think they are,” Alston said. “I think they are very transparent when they answer our questions.”

Alston also said the Joint Capital/Facilities Committee meetings are a good chance for the two bodies to communicate about issues and dig into what can be done to address rising costs.

The chairman said this week that county residents need to understand that the $2 billion won’t be enough to address all the school system’s needs and that more school bond referendums will be needed.

While the county commissioners do attempt to provide oversight on the construction expenditures, this current board is almost certainly more school-system-friendly than any Board of Commissioners in the history of Guilford County government.

Not all that many years ago the angry school board would come close almost yearly to threatening to sue the Board of Commissioners for not adequately funding the schools – and now the county spends almost half of the county’s budget providing the school system with just about everything it requests.

The current Board of Commissioners includes a teacher in the school system, two former Guilford County school board members, a commissioner who’s done significant volunteer work in the school system for a decade, and a chairman who once said during a commissioners meeting, after the school system got voter approval for $2 billion in bond money, that the schools really, “need 10 times that much.”

(Though Alston later acknowledged that was a slip of the tongue and the school system will not actually need $200 billion.)

The joint committee meeting is open to the public and will also be shown via Zoom at https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1611870474.