Settle Differences on School Bond

Copyright 2000 News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

News & Record (Greensboro, NC)

April 4, 2000, Tuesday, ALL EDITIONS SECTION:



During the past several months, N.C. Citizens for a Sound Economy has closely followed and researched the Guilford County commissioners’ $ 200 million bond proposal to build and renovate schools. As we understand it, the May 2 referendum will help education without an increase in your property taxes.

With less than a month until the vote, now is the time for Guilford County leaders to put aside party and personality differences. They must show the citizens that Guilford can be trusted with $ 200 million of their tax dollars. That is what leaders do – they lead with a strong foundation of trust.

CSE recently led a successful fight against a $ 650 million bond campaign in Wake County because it did not serve taxpayers well. So it surprised many people when CSE visited Guilford County last November to encourage the Republican Party to look for a way to support the referendum if it did not raise taxes. We developed guiding principles to create a framework by which the money would be spent. CSE worked with several community leaders to outline a seven-point ”Support Our Schools” pledge and asked the county commissioners and candidates to talk straight with the voters:

Fund schools on an allocation per student enrolled.

Education goals should drive the facilities delivered.

Classroom space should have top priority.

School officials should tell the public how they will manage the bond funds.

Look for privatization opportunities to finance and construct facilities.

Address the issue of achievement gaps between students.

No property tax increase is needed.

To that list, I would add two caveats. First, if Guilford County leaders ask voters to trust them with $ 200 million in school bond proceeds, they must only spend $ 200 million. Some people have raised legitimate concerns about the clause that would enable the county to actually spend more money if they deemed it necessary. Elected leaders should clearly state this would not happen.

Second, some have suggested that viable alternatives like charter schools be included in the solution. These alternatives that save tax dollars and provide parents more choices in educating their children can and should be a part of the solution in building needed schools.

I am asking the leaders of Guilford County – both Democrats and Republicans – to join me in meeting to decide how we can iron out any differences of opinion. We only have a month left to work together for passage of this much-needed bond issue. We can build new schools without raising your property taxes. Community leaders can build a consensus and new schools.

LOAD-DATE: April 5, 2000