School Bond Questions & Answers
An independent, comprehensive study of Guilford County Schools found that nearly half of GCS buildings are either in poor or unsatisfactory condition with leaking roofs, failing HVAC systems, outdated plumbing and a host of other problems associated with buildings with an average age of 55 years old. Money from the bond will be used to fix those issues, as well as upgrade technology, make schools safer and expand Career and Technical Education programs. Every public school in Guilford County will benefit from the bond in some way.
Didn’t Guilford County voters approve a $300 million bond in 2020 for GCS? How is that money being spent?
Yes, voters approved $300 million in 2020 to jumpstart the process of fixing the most critical needs, acquiring land for new schools and designing schools that support learning in the 21st century. However, the total need for our school system infrastructure is more than $2 billion, so this bond tackles the bulk of those needs. If you want to know more about how the $300 million from the 2020 bond is being spent, there is detailed information at www.gcsnc.com/Bond2020.
Bonds are the most affordable way to pay for infrastructure projects. Guilford County has the highest rating possible to borrow money at very low rates. But the money that is borrowed has to be repaid, and the sales tax will generate revenue from more than just property owners in Guilford County.
In 2019, there was a comprehensive study of the needs of every school in Guilford County. That study resulted in a Facilities Master Plan that prioritizes what needs to be repaired, renovated or rebuilt, as well as how to upgrade 100 percent of schools with modern technology and improve security. You can see the complete list of projects at by opening the Facilities Master Plan, linked at the bottom of this page.
No, property tax rates will not automatically be raised to pay for the school bond. County Commissioners have a plan to repay the bond while not increasing property tax rates. First, property reevaluations will generate about half of the funds needed to repay the debt each year. Second, the sales tax will apply to all residents and visitors in Guilford County, and it will raise the other half of the funds needed to repay the bond. Most recently, Guilford County Commissioners have voted to lower property taxes if the sales tax for schools is passed. Supporting our schools is a responsibility that should be shared by all members of the community, as well as visitors who spend roughly $1.6 billion a year in Guilford County.
The sales tax is for a quarter of a cent (0.25%), so think of it as a fraction of a penny. The local tax rate will go from 2 percent to 2.25 percent. For every $20 you spend on items in Guilford County, with the exception of groceries, vehicles, gas and prescription drugs, the sales tax will generate 5 pennies. The sales tax will apply to visitors in our community as well as residents, and it will raise $20-$25 million per year to supplement repaying the bond debt.
The entire purpose of the sales tax is to support our schools, and County Commissioners have passed a resolution making that commitment. We know that strong, healthy and growing communities have strong schools. The sales tax will ensure that everyone is helping address the critical needs of our schools, not just property owners.
The critical needs of our schools will still exist even if the bond does not pass, and the problems will only get worse. We have to fix the infrastructure, security and technology issues that are plaguing our schools. Funding will have to be achieved in other ways, but bonds are the most cost-effective ways to pay for these needs.
If the sales tax does not pass, there will be a $20 – $25 million funding gap to repay the bond, so County Commissioners will have to either raise property taxes, identify other sources of revenue or shift how other funds are currently spent.
Didn’t we learn from COVID-19 that we don’t need lots of school buildings and can move learning online?
No, in fact we learned the opposite. While remote and online learning will have a greater role in education, we know that young students need to be in school and with others to learn, develop and achieve. And every student deserves to be in a school that is not falling apart; has heat, air conditioning and plumbing that works; and has access to wireless technology and safety measures. We need our schools.
We are already using the $300 million in bond money that was approved in 2020, and the new bond funding will roll into tackling the priority projects identified in the Facilities Master Plan. However, this is a multi-year process that will happen over the next decade and create nearly 20,000 jobs in the process.
Will minority, women-owned and small businesses be included in the bidding process for construction work?
Yes, the County has very clear guidelines that ensure all businesses will have an opportunity to participate in these construction projects. Expanding the involvement of minority and women-owned businesses in renovation and construction is also a key focus of the GCS Facilities Construction department.
No, the county and the County Commissioners have a schedule on when to release funds and how to use them. The process will take place over the next decade.
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