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GCS Facilities Master Plan Shared with Joint BOE/BOCC Committee

Nov. 26, 2019 - A comprehensive, $2 billion facilities master plan unveiled today by Guilford County Schools (GCS) calls for safety and technology upgrades to all district schools, rebuilding 22 schools on existing sites and fully renovating 19 schools.

The plan also calls for constructing seven new schools and creating additions at three existing schools to alleviate overcrowding and accommodate student enrollment growth. The plan recommends moving some programs to new, rebuilt or fully renovated schools, and closing 13 school buildings and 11 administrative facilities. Major repairs are prioritized for 56 schools.

“This plan doesn’t recommend patching aging facilities that have been deteriorating for decades,” said Sharon L. Contreras. “This plan would transform our facilities not only for our current students, but for future generations.”

The new plan recommends expanding choice programs and schools, particularly in Greensboro and High Point where student demand for more options has been the greatest. Major renovations are included to better accommodate Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming at district high schools.  

The plan also would eliminate all mobile classrooms, some of which date to the 1970s. The district currently has more than 500 mobile or temporary classrooms in use. The district’s oldest building is Swann Middle, which opened in 1922. GCS’ newest facility is Western Guilford Middle, which was built in 2018.

Developed by Cooperative Strategies, a school facility planning firm, the master plan was shared with a special joint committee established in 2017 by the school board and county commissioners to review GCS facility needs and capital spending. A second meeting is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Dec. 19.

The plan builds on a facility condition assessment conducted in 2018 and finalized in a report shared last January. That study rated more than 50 percent of the district’s facilities in poor or unsatisfactory condition. The average school in GCS was built in 1966, prior to the advent of the first lunar landing, personal computing and the invention of the internet.

Dozens of district schools have not received major renovations in more than 30 years. Last year alone, the district’s maintenance department responded to more than 20,000 work orders for repairs.

“Not doing anything is not an option,” said David Sturtz, a partner with Cooperative Strategies. “These costs are only going up, and many district schools have reached the point where replacing outdated facilities is more cost effective than trying to maintain old buildings that are not designed to meet modern standards for teaching and learning, safety, technology and other basic building needs, including the behind-the-scenes systems that are starting to fail districtwide.”

The Joint Capital/Facilities Committee will reconvene on December 19. The district plans to hold Information sessions and launch an online survey to seek feedback after winter break from parents, employees and the public.