GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Guilford County School Board voted on a new budget Tuesday night. The school board will ask county commissioners for an additional $10.2 million for operating budget and $10 million for capital outlay for the 2017-2018 school year.
Total budget breakdown: $198.6 million for operating an addition $10.8 for capital.
The approved budget is $2 million more than Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras's recommended budget. The increase accounts for changes state lawmakers made last month with HB 13, a class size reduction mandate for grades K through 3. The funds will also help cover predicted increases in salary and benefits.
GCS plans to add 230 students next school year. The budget reduces 51 teacher assistant positions to help pay for the additional students. It also reorganizes the central office and charges an annual $45 participation fee for athletes who can afford to pay.
The budget also calls to close High School Ahead. In doing so, the budget can provide credit recovery alternative to more students.
Emotions were running high at the Guilford County School Board meeting Tuesday night. More than 30 people spoke during the public comment section, and most of them against the possible closing of High School Ahead Academy, an accelerated middle school.
Teachers, parents, and students took to the microphone one by one, to discuss the closing of a school. The closing would only affect 67 sixth graders out of around 10,000 students in the GCS system.
However, from the emotional responses, the relatively few have greatly benefited from the program, and some students said they don’t know what they would do without the help they get in the HSAA environment.
“it gives them an opportunity to be in a place where they're comfortable,” said math teacher Travis Oliver, “As staff we care about them, and they feel a part of that community and because of that they excel and do well.”
The public also weighed in heavily on changing the name of Guilford Middle to Western Guilford Middle School. Board members voted 6 to 3 for this change. People opposed to the change cited nostalgic reasons. Those for the change said it drew them closer to the high school they'll feed into: Western High School.