Guilford County’s school buildings are literally falling apart.
“While the buildings and grounds look okay from the outside, the infrastructure inside the walls and core systems like windows, doors, roofs, plumbing, foundations and heating/cooling units have been stretched to the breaking point,” the school system says. “In fact, so many systems are so old that we can’t always get parts for repairs.”
The school system has identified facility needs totaling $2 billion. The first steps toward meeting those needs are on the ballot this fall — a $300 million school-bond proposal and a 1/4-cent local sales tax increase for school construction. The College Hill Neighborhood Association has endorsed both ballot proposals. Please vote yes on the bonds and the sales tax increase.
The money will start funding the Guilford County Schools Facilities Master Plan, which was released last year. The plan calls for:
- Safety and technology upgrades for all schools,
- Rebuilding 22 schools on existing sites,
- Building seven new schools and expanding three more to alleviate overcrowding and accommodate enrollment growth,
- Fully renovating 19 schools,
- Major repairs for 56 schools and
- Eliminating all mobile classrooms, some of which date to the 1970s. GCS has more than 500 mobile or temporary classrooms.
In addition, the report found that 13 school buildings and 11 administrative facilities are in such bad shape they should simply be closed.
“This plan doesn’t recommend patching aging facilities that have been deteriorating for decades,” GCS Superintendent Sharon L. Contreras has said. That’s how the system has coped in the past. That’s why we now need $2 billion to fix our school buildings.
Most of us in College Hill don’t have children in school. But every one of us needs our schools to do the best job possible of preparing our community’s young people for their adult lives. We’ll be depending on them in the future. We need to fix our school buildings now.
Our schools haven’t received bond funding for 12 years. Neither measure on the ballot would impose a difficult expense on any of us. For the slight amount of money that each of us will pay, the results will be huge. And not supporting our schools would send our county further down the path taken by Alabama, Mississippi and other places that think their poverty, moribund local economies and bottom-of-every-ranking schools are all just a big coincidence.
We aren’t fools. Let’s not vote like we are. Support our schools at the polls. Vote for the school bonds and sales tax increase.