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Guilford County Schools asks county for more money as school bond projects near construction

The district blamed inflation and increased competition for construction projects on the heftier price tag.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The district said it needs more money to complete repairs to Guilford County Schools due to inflation.

Voters approved $2 billion dollars worth of school bonds for the projects.

Guilford County Schools met with the Board of Commissioners in a joint capital facilities committee meeting to discuss the funds. 

The district is asking commissioners to approve more than $165 million dollars it estimates it needs for six schools already on their way to construction. The district had already approved more than $200 million for those projects.

The funds would go to construction at:

  • Kaiser Middle School
  • Claxton Elementary School
  • Brooks Global Studies
  • Peck Expeditionary Learning School
  • Foust Gaming and Robotics School
  • New Visual and Performing Arts School

The district hopes to have the contracts nailed down for each of them by April so the schools can be ready to open for the 2024 school year.

GCS Chief Operations Officer Michelle Reed said the money is needed to cover rising construction costs for things like concrete, steel and labor.

She said other major construction projects like the Toyota battery plant and Boom Supersonic's jet manufacturing plant are also playing a part.

"You have Boom that just moved up their construction and is on the same timeline as we are. They are pulling from the same resource pool that we are at the same time as we are and they're opening in the Fall of 24 which we are. Now we compete," Reed said.

The district said it found ways to cut $13 million needed for these schools. For example, they saved nearly $2 million by scrapping a third floor for Brooks Global. At Foust, they'll build four fewer classrooms, saving nearly $400 thousand.

Guilford County Commissioners are weighing how they want to approve these funds, all at once or school by school.

Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley said waiting to approve the funds could create a domino effect.

"I wouldn't want to wait until February to do the next two on the list because we will automatically be behind on our construction date," Oakley said.

County Commission Chair Skip Alston said he's wary of approving all fo the funds at once because they're estimates. He believes they could approve money for each school in chunks without putting construction behind.

"Our kids are suffering every day until we get that new school open," Alston said. "Our board doesn't want to hold you up but at the same time, we need to be responsible as far as issuing the funds because we have to pick up that amount."

County commissioners will consider approving the additional money tomorrow. If approved, site work could begin within a couple of months.

Commissioners will also consider approving $92 million dollars to get construction planning underway for nine additional schools.

Those schools are:

  • Bessemer Elementary School
  • Joyner Elementary School
  • Lindley K-8 School
  • Northwest Middle School
  • Northwood Elementary School
  • Shadybrook Elementary School
  • Sumner Elementary School
  • Swann Center 6-12
  • Vandalia Elementary School

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