Who will help pay for huge GCS school bond?

It’s pretty much a given that Guilford County Schools will have a bond referendum on the ballot sometime in 2020. County Commissioner Skip Alston envisions a $1 billion referendum in 2020 followed by a $500 million referendum in three years and another $500 million referendum after that, according to the Rhino Times.

Alston has another vision—spreading the cost around:

lston said this week that he has begun an effort to get local businesses and the cities of Greensboro and High Point to collectively take on 10 percent of the school bond debt issued by the county in an expected upcoming bond referendum.

Alston said one of the groups that would benefit the most from improved schools is area businesses, and he said, for that reason, he’s attempting to work with the local business community to get them to raise the funds to pay off 10 percent of a coming school bond. He said that effort also includes getting contributions from the county’s two biggest cities.

Normally, the entire cost of paying back a bond referendum would fall on Guilford County government. However, Alston said he’s optimistic the business community in Guilford County will buy in to the plan and he hopes city leaders will also see the wisdom of doing so due to the economic development benefits.

“I think we should ask the business community and the cities to do 10 percent,” Alston said this week. “Increasing spending on schools attracts more business. The first thing business leaders ask about when they are considering coming here is ‘How is your school system?’”

He added that a well-equipped and well-funded school system creates a stronger, better educated workforce that’s a big benefit to local businesses and cities.

“They ought to be partners in paying,” he said.

No details on exactly how that would work. GCS just released its ambitious $2 billion construction plan that would close several schools, totally renovate one its flagship Grimsley High School and rebuild its rival Page High School on the site of Cone Elementary, which would be torn down. In addition–according to the News & Record— GCS “would close, and potentially sell, 10 of the district’s 12 widespread administrative offices and instead combine them into a new $31 million school administration building on a new site.”

GCS has wanted a new administrative building for years, while developers have been licking their chops developers over the property on which it sits–right in the heart of tony Fisher Park. Stay tuned.

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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