Guilford County Schools construction projects waiting on funding

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County Commissioners are considering a couple of options to fund much-needed repairs in schools across the district.

Some need new roofs and bigger classrooms or kitchens while other schools need to be entirely replaced.

The nine priority projects will cost $130 million over three years, but now commissioners will decide how much money to release per year.

They asked the Board of Education to prioritize the projects based on whether $60 million or $75 million was made available for construction costs in summer 2015.

GCS said if commissioners approve $60 million at their March 19 meeting, the district will start construction this summer on six projects:

-Renovations and expansions at Northwood Elementary and High Point Central

-New traffic patterns at Dudley High and Northwest High

-Renovations and Upgrades at Bluford Elementary

-Replacement school for Hunter Elementary

In this scenario, additions and renovations at Western High, a P.E. facility at Smith High, and a new Guilford Middle school will have to wait. Construction wouldn’t begin until summer 2016 on those three projects, GCS said in a statement.

If commissioners approve $75 million to start with, the district can move forward and begin all nine projects.

“The board requested the commissioners approve the additional $15 million in order to save money on maintenance and rising construction costs,” said spokesperson Nora Murray in the statement.

GCS Director of Construction Samuel Masters explained, “They sell the bonds which gives us the money. The county has to pay off those bonds. It’s like buying a new car. Now your household monthly payments go up because you have to make that car payment. Same thing for the county commissioners.”

He said the county has to figure out cash flow and when they can afford to pay debt service on the bonds they sell.

High Point Central principal Bob Christina is excited their renovations and additions are almost certain to start this summer.

“Built in 1926, the school could use a little TLC,” he said. “It’s fantastic for students to come to a place that’s better than where they come from. It gives them an idea of what success really looks like.”

On the other hand, three schools are now unsure whether their construction will start now or next year.

Guilford Middle School Principal Patrice Brown said they’ve waited a long time for this opportunity.

“We really appreciate the support of commissioners in replacing the building. However, it is a pressing need and one we believe is a priority in terms of getting started as soon as possible.”

She said leaks are especially a problem, and pointed out a door that seems to always need repair.

Brown said they’ve held off on as many expensive repairs as possible knowing they will get a new school.

“If we delay it, there’s going to be even more costs associated,” she pointed out. “I really hope they approve that $75 million so we can stay on track.”

For more info on the priority projects, click here.