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Guilford County Commissioners approve adding $1.7 billion school bond referendum to March ballot

Guilford County Commissioners passed the motion in a 7-2 vote to add the bond package to the ballot.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Come March of next year, voters will have the chance to decide on a $1.7 billion dollar school referendum bond that will be added to the ballot.

Guilford County Commissioners passed the motion in a 7-2 vote to add the bond package to the ballot. This topic has been something that some commissioners are divided on. 

“This is a down payment on the neglect in the schools,” Guilford County Commission Chairman Skip Alston said.

"Based on experience of how timely they've spent past bond money, I think this a little excessive at this point and time," Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue said. 

The $1.7 billion bond is part of a larger $2 billion plan to fix run-down facilities in Guilford County Schools, including rebuilding 22 schools and fully renovating 19 others. Voters already approved a $300 million bond to build eight new school buildings.

Commissioner James Upchurch said the bond will carry some financial implications but he thinks that voters should have the choice on whether they want this or not. 

RELATED: Guilford County commissioners survey disrepair at Page High School ahead of $1.7 billion bond vote

“It is a big number but if we continue to piecemeal the problem little by little we are going to continue chasing our tails,” said Guilford County Commissioner Carly Cooke.

Earlier this week, Alston and Cooke toured Page High to get an understanding of the conditions of Guilford County Schools.

Chairman Alston explains, "so we can hide behind the fact that this is a lot of money but this is just a down payment on the neglect that we've had in the past 50 years of our schools."

Alston plans to visit each of the schools on the bond referendum every Wednesday.

The school bond will be on the March 8th, 2022 ballot.

Commissioners Weigh-In 

  • Alan Perdue said he voted against it because it's "too much money." 
  • Justin Conrad voted against it. 
  • Carly Cooke said she would vote for it because "they need improvements across the board in the school system." 
  • Mary Beth Murphy voted in favor because she said, "We have to make a bold investment in our community." 
  • Katie "Kay" Cashion said, "As a parent and a grandparent for many years, I've been in and out of the classrooms. I've seen needs that have been there for many years and never been met." 
  • Carlvena Foster said, “This board is taking a very bold but necessary step with this.”
  • James Upchurch said, it's a large amount of money but he's in support of it and thinks it should be up to voters to decide. 
  • Chairman Alston said in part, “If you doubt that this money is needed in schools then visit some of them. When you go into the school and see the seats in the auditorium and the school was built in 1963 and the seats are still there, something has been neglected."

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