Supporters say paying a little more at the cash register will invest millions into Guilford County's public schools.

The Quarter Cent For Schools is launching a grassroots campaign to gain voter support for a referendum that will be on the November general election ballot. Anita Bachmann, the campaign coordinator for the private group, says if the quarter cent tax increase is passed, it will raise an annual estimate of $14 million for the district's public schools.  Earlier this year, North Carolina state legislators cut nearly $48 million dollars in funding for Guilford County's schools.  

“As a result of that, we've seen classroom sizes grow," explains Bachmann. "Our children don't always have a text book. Our teachers are having to photo copy from a textbook so they can come home with a chapter. We're also seeing that many of our schools are unable to be properly maintained." 
The district has 127 schools and Bachmann says about half of them are 50 years old or older. 
The proposed sales tax will not apply to most groceries, prescriptions and gasoline.



School advocates, however, face an uphill battle at a time when voters have been reluctant to approve any tax increases. Guilford County voters have rejected a quarter cent sales tax increase three times since 2008. Statewide, only 27 out of 100 counties have successfully passed a quarter cent sales tax since 2007.

Also, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing says on the November 2014 ballot, the referendum's wording will not specify the purpose for the tax increase. Voters will simply answer  'For' or 'Against' with regards to a tax increase.

"[It] makes it difficult to get it approved," says Lawing. "That's why I think only 27 counties have approved the quarter cent sales tax."

The Quarter Cent For Schools campaign is relying on billboards, yard signs, public speakers and social media to explain where the money raised by the tax increase will go, and it hopes it will convince voters that it's money well spent. 
On November fourth, voters in five other counties will also see a quarter cent sales tax referendum on their ballot. 



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