GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — Guilford County Commissioners walked through Andrews High School in High Point late Wednesday afternoon.
It was the last school on the tour of schools before people cast their vote about the $1.7 billion school bond.
Andrews High School’s conditions weren’t as bad as previous school visits, but the needs were just as great as all the rest.
Some students and teachers were wearing winter coats in class with a portable heater to maintain heat inside because of the malfunctioning air and heating system.
“Individuals are not going to move here and send their kids to school in this kind of shape,” said Dr. Marcus Gause, Principal of T. Wingate Andrews High School.
The tour showed outdated equipment in science lab classes, non-working equipment from the 1960s, dark hallways unable to be fixed because of the age of the building, and unusable supplies in classrooms like home economics.
The Bond referendum that passed a resolution in December of last year from commissioners will go to the much-needed capital improvements inside Guilford County Schools if voters approve it.
The money would be added to the initial 300 million investment from the 2020 bond commissioners say only funds a fraction of the needs for county schools.
The plan for the $1.7 billion is to fund 18 rebuilds, 13 renovations, and 3 new construction projects. It would also provide new technology, maintenance, and a safe environment for students and teachers.
To get the bond passed voters will need to vote on a news 1/4 of a penny sales tax.
“It is 1/4th of a penny. It is not a quarter on a dollar, so that is the purpose of all of these educational sessions to educate the people on exactly what the quarter-cent sales tax represents,” said Carlvena Foster, Guilford County Commissioner.
County Commissioners said the fraction of a penny sales tax increase would exclude items like gas, prescription medicine and groceries.
Officials estimate the sales tax increase would equal to five pennies for every $20 spent on most goods and services in Guilford County.
“The impact to their pockets is very little, but the difference that it’s going to make for our schools is tremendous,” said Foster.
Former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson said the nearly $2 billion dollar referendum is too much to ask for, as people still recovering from the massive impact of the COVID pandemic.
“I just don’t think currently right now it’s time for the $1.7 billion to pass,” said Branson.
Branson said he’s all for giving back to schools and the future of students, but commissioners should start with basic needs maintenance in the buildings first and lower the asking price to 700-800 million dollars.
“There’s a lot of things that need to go along with repairs to the school that’s going to cost lots of money,” said Branson.
Commissioners said money from the sales tax increase would be solely for school funding.
Voters can cast their votes on the $1.7-billion-dollar bond referendum during the primary elections on May 17th.