Sales Tax Increase? An Idea to Fund the School Budget

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Guilford County Board of Education approved Tuesday a $207 million budget request for local funding.

Guilford County Schools Superintendent Maurice "Mo" Green presented the recommended budget in April, which included $197 million for operating costs and $10 million in capital outlay for school maintenance.

The Board approved the request under two conditions. The Board wants an additional $131,837 to make its wage the same as Guilford County commissioners, a total of $257,237.

The Board's second condition involves not reducing teacher assistant and other paraprofessionals' work by 4.5 days, as proposed in Green's initial request. The school district says cutting those days would have saved the district $592,961.

In a news conference Wednesday, Green said he thinks Guilford County commissioners should implement a sales tax increase. County Commission Chair Bill Bencini said the only way to implement a sales tax increase would be with approval from county commissioners and a county-wide referendum. The earliest that would happen is November.

Commissioner Hank Henning realizes the school district has needs, but believes it's the wrong economic climate to ask people to pay more in taxes.

Superintendent Green says the district can't operate much longer without drastic changes, including teacher layoffs. "We have raised class sizes a number of times and to do it now again in this proposed budget, means that there are many more kids who will not receive the services that they so richly deserve," said Green.

They know that all too well at Joyner Elementary in Greensboro. The building is near 60 years old, the heating and cooling system needs daily attention and the roof leaks when it rains.

Principal Denise Ebbs says teachers and tutors are paying the price of budget cuts. "Our teachers are working on trying to close the gaps that they have in their knowledge. It makes it difficult with the teachers to give enough time in order to close those gaps with the students."

The Board-approved budget request will go to the Guilford County manager by Thursday.


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