Guilford County Boards Unite to Support School Bonds & Sales Tax
Guilford County voters will consider two ballot proposals during the March 2022 primary to address our outdated public schools.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with placing the $1.7 billion school bond referendum on the county’s spring election ballot. The school board approved a similar resolution in October.
Earlier in November, the Board of County Commissioners also passed a resolution putting forth a slight increase (0.0025%) in the county sales tax rate that would help offset the costs associated with building three new schools, rebuilding 19 existing schools on their current sites, fully renovating 12 schools, making a $363 million investment in safety and technology upgrades for all schools, as well as providing major repairs to schools with failing roofs, heat, air conditioning and plumbing.
In North Carolina, counties are responsible for funding school capital needs. School bonds generally are the lowest cost option to fund the needs in Guilford County, saving taxpayers as much as $30 million over other forms of financing.
The new projects are in addition to eight school projects already underway, thanks to the voter approval of a $300 million school bond in 2020. During the next 7-10 years, this combined
$2 billion investment in our community will also create nearly 20,000 local jobs.
The historic votes reflect the culmination of a five-year process that included a county-wide “listening and learning” tour, school-by-school building reviews and the development of a master facility plan that addresses the needs of every school.
“For years, Guilford County Schools have been preparing students to live and compete in the global economy, and it’s time to give our district the facilities it needs,” said Deena Hayes-Greene, school board chairperson. “The school bond represents a critical turning point for how we resource the District.”
An independent study funded jointly by the commissioners and school board found that district schools were, in some cases, literally falling apart. More than 50% were rated as being in poor or unsatisfactory condition.
“Our public-school infrastructure is crumbling, and we need to do something about it now,” stated Skip Alston, county commission chairman. “Guilford County has a mandated obligation to provide the infrastructure that allows our children and teachers a safe and adequate place to work and learn. The needs have been identified, a solid financial plan to fund those needs has been laid out and now it is time for our community to act.”
With most schools built an average of 55 years ago, many GCS schools have faulty heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that experience frequent breakdowns in service – especially during hot and cold weather. Schools also lack modern technology and adequate safety systems.
In addition to new construction, renovations and repairs, the bond will be used to:
- Make schools safer with digital locks, cameras and other security measures, as well as modernizing classrooms and upgrading technology.
- Expand in-demand programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the visual and performing arts, advanced manufacturing, robotics, computer sciences and other Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs.
- Design new schools to serve multipurpose needs such as community meeting spaces, job training centers and healthcare services.
To help pay for the school bond, Guilford County voters will have the opportunity to approve a fraction of a penny sales tax (excluding certain items such as groceries, prescriptions and gas) that spreads the cost of repaying the bond beyond property owners with the intention to keep property tax rates neutral. County officials estimate that the sales tax impact would equate to five pennies for every $20 that is spent on most goods and services in Guilford County.
“We remain committed to the priorities established in our master facilities plan,” said Dr. Sharon L. Contreras, superintendent of schools. “The $300 million bond was a critical first step to address a decades old problem. Taken together, the proposals provide a direct pathway to fixing our schools, and transforming learning and ultimately the future for our children.”
For more information visit www.schoolbondfacts.com.