GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to approve 11 Guilford County Schools bond project ordinances totaling $300 million, with all funding to come from the bonds voters approved in November 2020.

During a Thursday afternoon worksession, board members heard more details about the projects, which the Guilford County Board of Education approved on March 9 to request funding from the $300 million in school bonds.

Those projects include more than $56 million for construction of a Southwest Guilford area K-8 school. School system Chief Financial Officer Angie Henry described the Southwest area as one “where those schools are just busting at the seams.”

The STEM center planned for the new Southwest school will serve students across the region.

School board spending priorities include about $5.2 million toward the estimated $31 million cost to rebuild Allen Jay Elementary School. With the county board’s approval, the school system can now start selecting an architect to begin design work that is expected to take eight to 12 months, Henry said.

Work can start immediately on some of the school building projects where students aren’t going to be impacted. The school district hasn’t purchased land yet to build a Hampton/Peeler K-5, which is intended to replace elementary schools in eastern Guilford damaged by tornados on April 15 three years ago.

The comprehensive $2 billion long-term facilities master plan, developed through a joint study committee of the commissioners and school board, calls for safety and technology upgrades to all district schools, rebuilding 22 schools on existing sites and renovating 19 schools. It also calls for building seven new schools and creating additions at three existing schools to alleviate overcrowding and accommodate enrollment growth. The plan recommends moving some programs to new, rebuilt or fully renovated schools, and closing 13 school buildings and consolidating administrative facilities. Major repairs are prioritized for 56 schools.

After schools closed in March 2020 because of the ongoing pandemic, the district discovered gaps in technology as classes went virtual, Henry said.

“We really found out that we’re challenged as far as technology goes,” Henry said. “So we’re going to be upgrading technology in our buildings to make sure our students can have access when they are in our buildings and even when they’re not.”

The districtwide plan also includes a focus on academies with career and technical education, Henry said.

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