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Where people stand on the Guilford County Schools bond referendum

We hear from both sides about why you should or shouldn't vote yes for the bond.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Voters will decide on a $1.7 billion Guilford County School bond on Tuesday's primary election ballot.

If approved, the district would use the money to pay for repairs at schools across the county.

It comes two years after voters passed a $300 million dollar bond.

People differ on whether to approve or deny it. WFMY News 2's Grace Holland heard from voters on both sides.

The argument against the bond

Campaign season comes with yard signs. Red and black ones have popped up in some yards across the county. They urge people to reject the bond.

"They have $300 million now. They've not done much with it yet," Austin Simons said.

Simons already cast his vote against the bond. He and Stephen Broad think it's too much money, too soon.

"I do think schools are very important," Broad said. "I think our teachers need to be paid better but we also have a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens to explain where the money has gone. Until that's done, I can't support the bond."

The district still hasn't spent most of that 300 million.

Their website shows about $25 million is under contract and $275 million remains. Projects at 10 schools are still in the planning phase.

Their completion dates are not until 2024.

"It's important to consider more money but maybe we should have gotten another $300 million," Simons said. "It seems a little bit reckless to me to go ahead and throw $1.7 billion to them. I know the schools need a lot of repairs, I just think that it needs to be a little more methodical in how we do it."

The argument for the bond

Other yard signs around town encourage people to vote for the bond.

Those in favor argue it would mean upgrades or repairs for every school in the district.

Many of the district's buildings are more than 50 years old, and show their age.

"We have an animal shelter that's in better condition than 90 percent of our schools," Guilford County Board of Commissioners Chair Skip Alston said.

A 2019 study found GCS needs $2 billion in repairs. While the process is slow, President of the High Point Community Foundation President Paul Lessard said it will be worth it.

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

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. 

"It would add almost 20,000 jobs," Hooper said.

The county wants to pay for this bond with a quarter of a cent sales tax increase. Voters will decide that as a separate ballot item.