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Explaining the Guilford County Schools bond referendum | 2 Wants to Know

Guilford County voters will decide whether to approve a $1.7 billion bond to make upgrades to GCS schools.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina primary election is on May 17. Aside from candidate races, Guilford County residents will also vote on two key measures: a $1.7 billion bond for Guilford County Schools and a 0.25% sales tax increase.

2 Wants to Know was joined by leaders from around Guilford County to explain what each move would entail.

The district said it needs the money to repair schools in poor condition. If voters approve the bond, the money would fund three new schools, rebuild 18, and fully renovate 13, according to GCS. 

Angie Henry, the school district's Chief Financial Officer, said it conducted a study in 2019 to assess the condition of its schools. It found that GCS schools needed $2 billion in repairs. The first $300 million was allocated in a 2020 bond.

Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston has toured many of the schools in the district. He said the schools need the money.

"I hate to say it, but our schools are in horrible shape," Alston said. "We have an animal shelter that we just built that's in better condition than 90% of our schools."

Paul Lessard, President of the High Point Community Foundation, said improving is vital to the success of GCS students.

"If you want a world-class school system, it's gotta look like one," Lessard said. 

GCS said the sales tax increase would not apply to gas, prescriptions, groceries, or car sales. Alston said the county would decrease property taxes if the sales tax passes.

Deborah Hooper, the Chief Operating Officer of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce, said prospective businesses looking to move to the city always ask what the schools are like. 

Hooper said improving schools goes beyond the classroom. She said passing the bond would allow for 20,000 jobs to get created, according to a study conducted at NC State University.