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Some parents upset after ‘Say Yes Guilford’ decides to spend money on leadership training for administrators

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. – Some parents are upset over the “Say Yes Guilford” decision to spend money on leadership training for Guilford County administrators.

This comes after Say Yes said it did not have enough money budgeted to pay for college scholarships for every high schooler.

Many parents in Guilford County, including Keith Burris, were counting on help from Say yes to send his two daughters to college next year.

"I think Say Yes can be great for Guilford County," Burris said about the program.

But when Say Yes changed the criteria to qualify for college scholarships this spring, Burris had to come up with another plan.

Now, he's puzzled why Say Yes is spending money to send administrators to Harvard University for leadership training.

Guilford County Schools' superintendent announced a partnership with Harvard's Public Education Leadership Project this week.

"You hear that and you're like, you don't have money for scholarships, but you do have money for sending someone to Harvard for training?" Burris said.

FOX8 asked the district and Say Yes for answers. The interim executive director of Say Yes is out of the county and wasn't available to talk.

Donnie Turlington, the communications director for Say Yes Guilford, said he doesn't know how much the Harvard training program will cost.

He did say the money does not come from the $42 million raised for college scholarships. The training money will come from a separate operations fund.

It also comes from donations, but that money pays for day-to-day expenses and support programs, including the partnership with Harvard.

The problem for Burris, he thinks donor don't know exactly what they're giving money to.

"If I was a person in the community that had given a check to Say Yes, I would be upset that I would have felt like I did not get the straight story. Where did my money go?" Burris said.

Turlington told us Say Yes is much more than just a scholarship program, but Burris says funding this training just creates confusion about the overall mission of Say Yes.
"We said this was going to for the county," Buris said. "People was going to move here. Nobody's going to move for Say Yes the way it's functioning today."

Thirty other school districts across the country have partnered with Harvard's Public Education Leadership Projects in the past, including Forsyth County Schools.