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GCS officials discuss safety and technology upgrades included in bond | 2 Wants to Know

Guilford County voters will decide whether to approve a $1.7 billion bond in the May 17 election.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The North Carolina primaries are less than a month away. You'll be able to vote for several races such as the mayoral and the congressional primary. You also have a chance to vote for a bond allocating $1.7 billion to Guilford County Schools.                    

The district said it needs the money to repair schools in poor condition. Along with the bond referendum, you can also vote on whether to approve a 0.25% sales tax increase. District officials said the increase would not apply to prescriptions, gas or groceries.

Included in the bond is more than $363 million for safety and technology improvements. Mike Richey, the GCS Executive Director of Emergency Management, and Michelle Reed, the district's Chief Operating Officer, joined 2 Wants to Know to take a closer look at the plan to update and make schools safer.

Richey said GCS' goal is to be the most up-to-date district in North Carolina, and the bond will help achieve that. 

Reed said the schools aren't prepared to meet the educational needs of the 21st century. She said the bond will allow schools across the district to get new routers, devices and cabling. 

"We're leaning on our partner districts and across the country to really think about what innovations they're putting in their schools that we haven't even touched or tapped today," Reed said.

Among the improvements, GCS plans to make if the bond passes are digital locks, cameras, phone and intercom systems and additional support from first responders. Digital locks work like ID card scanners that some people use to enter buildings.

"We will know who is in the school and where they are, and I don't mean in a 'Big Brother' capacity," Richey said. "I mean an ability to tell you in an emergency situation that we know these 15 people are in this location, so we can get them the help they need."

Reed said the technology upgrades would allow the district to contact first responders quicker and get students and staff help when an emergency arises.

Early voting starts Thursday and runs until May 14. Election Day is May 17.

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