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Guilford County voters to consider $300 million school bond, quarter-cent sales tax to fund facilities renovation, replacement

In 2019, GCS brought in an outside perspective to assess the conditions of the schools. Now, a multi-million dollar bond is on the ballot to help kickstart repairs.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — It's not just candidates on the ballot this year. Voters in Guilford County will decide whether to approve money to rebuild and renovate aging public schools.

Perhaps you've seen the pictures before - of peeling paint, cracked floors, locker doors coming off their hinges - the list goes on. Fixing the problems will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. 

There are two items to consider: a $300 million school bond - and a quarter-cent sales tax increase. Many Guilford County leaders believe both need to pass in order to repair and upgrade deteriorating schools. However, some voters don't plan on voting 'yes.'

Last year, GCS brought in an outside perspective to assess the conditions of buildings across the district. The study found that 50% of the facilities were in pretty bad shape.

Board of Education Chair Deena Hayes-Greene says the vicious cycle of repair work is not unlike maintaining your own home - but on a much larger scale. The district is responsible for more than 100 buildings across the district.

"It's ongoing work. You do the roof and come back and have water heater replacement issues," she said, "You do the water heater, you come back and have heating and air conditioning issues. You do that and come back and have electrical work that needs to be done."

With the average GCS school more than 50 years old, those fixes are piling up. 

"The pandemic just exposed this and highlighted this for a lot of people who did not know the condition of America's school buildings," said Superintendent Dr. Sharon Contreras.

"Your children and your grandchildren are going to schools that are not adequate," said Commissioner Skip Alston, "This is a pay me now - or pay me later - and a pay much more later, if you don't do it now."

However, not every voter plans on approving these measures, like GCS parents Mary Beamon and Danielle King.

"I know that the systems are outdated and don't work well, but I just don't trust that the money will be spent where it was supposed to be spent," Beamon said. 

"They have a tremendous amount of repairs to make, they have a tremendous amount of technology to catch up on," said King, "Should that have been done along the way? Yes!"

Having already identified the schools with the worst problems, GCS says work would begin immediately should these measures get voter approval. Find out more about the district's plan by clicking here.

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