Guilford County Schools seek $26 million more than last year from commissioners

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County Schools could be asking for around $205 million from Guilford County Commissioners later this spring.

That’s the recommendation of Superintendent Mo Green. His budget proposal was released Tuesday night.

The $205 million for operating expenses is about $26 million more than the district received last year for operating expenses.

Green said that extra money is needed to restore staff levels and keep up with pay increases and increasing expenses like health insurance and retirement costs.

“In the past we have focused on cuts, and significant cuts, to compensate for budget shortfalls,” said Green. “Now that we are moving out of the Great Recession, it is time to make up for those cuts and start to adequately fund our children’s education.”

Green said his budget would restore several hundred teaching positions that have been cut since 2008.

“Since I've been superintendent we have had to increase class sizes three times,” said Green. “We've lost more than 200 teaching positions. That is not educationally sound. We need to get more teachers back in the schools to reduce elementary and middle school class sizes and to be able to provide more rigorous course options in the high schools.”

The school district is also seeking more money from the county because of state mandates that would shift the burden of paying for driver’s education to school districts and require every school district to add an American History course in order for students to graduate.

School board members voted to adopt the budget proposal but they still have several weeks to amend the details before it’s submitted to Guilford County Commissioners.

A few school board members were concerned about disappearing federal funding sources that help pay for programs like Mission Possible -- a program that gives bonuses to teachers for excellent improvement at poor performing schools.

Other school board members would like to see the public support this request by asking local and state lawmakers to honor the funding requests.

“Please demand of your representatives in Raleigh and in the federal government and the county government to fund education,” said Jeff Belton, a Guilford County Schools board member. “It is the best investment that we can make as a community.”

An additional $10 million will be sought by the school district from commissioners in building maintenance funds but that does not factor into the operating expenses for the district, about 80 percent of which is spent in the schools.

According to Green’s budget plan, about 34 percent of the total yearly budget would come from Guilford County Commissions and other local sources. State money would account for about 60 percent of the budget and federal money would contribute a little over 6 percent for an expected total operating budget of $621 million.