Guilford County's new voting machines came in $5.8 million under budget. And now, Guilford County Schools may benefit from that unexpected surplus. One proposal would earmark the funds for maintenance needs and raising compensation for the county's roughly 500 school bus drivers.

They're among the lowest-paid Guilford County Schools employees and just last month considered walking off the job in protest. Democratic Commissioner Skip Alston says he wants to allocate $1.5 million to raise bus drivers' and other school system workers' pay to at least $15 an hour, to retain existing employees and hire new ones. 

“Many of them are working double shifts,” says Alston. “We have between 60-90 vacancies in the bus driver pool because people aren't being paid properly, and they're going to other counties in order to get more money.”

Also pressing, Alston says, are much-needed repairs for the county's roughly 130 aging school buildings and offices. 

“Our kids are in those schools right now, today, with no heat in the wintertime and no air conditioning in the summertime,” says Alston. “It's unfair for us to ask our children to go to school with gloves on, overcoats on, and trying to keep their bodies warm and still pay attention to the teacher. That's inhumane and it's immoral.”

Alston's proposal is on the agenda for this week's board meeting.


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