Guilford County voters will consider a major bond referendum during the March primary election to address capital needs in the school district. The Board of Commissioners approved adding it on the ballot by a vote of 7 to 2 at a Thursday meeting.
District leaders say the $1.7 billion bond would touch every school in the system. Plans call for new technology, security upgrades, new school construction, and renovations at many sites. Guilford County officials say the pandemic has shown how widespread the aging infrastructure problem is and that action is urgent.
Failing HVAC systems have led to early dismissals at some schools. Others have leaking roofs, cracked walls and plumbing issues.
A study found that more than 50 percent of district schools were rated as being in poor or unsatisfactory condition.
Guilford County Commissioners Chairman of the Board Melvin "Skip" Alston addressed some commissioners' concerns that the amount of money is excessive and a burden to taxpayers.
“We can hide behind the fact that we can't, that this is a lot of money, but this is just a down payment on the neglect that we've had in the last 50 years of our schools,” said Alston.
Guilford County voters will also consider another measure on the March ballot for a quarter-cent sales tax. If approved, that money would be used to help offset the cost of paying back that bond and possibly increases in property taxes.
In 2020, commissioners placed a $300 million school bond on the ballot, a smaller amount than the district had hoped for. Voters passed that measure. Construction on several of those projects is already underway.
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