Leo Defends Expensive Schools

Stop the presses…Someone just called GCS chief operations officer Leo Bobadilla “a chronic liar.”

It wasn’t me…it was one of the respondents to Leo’s “Counterpoint” in today’s News & Record (click here), in which he is trying desperately to spin why an $88 million school is okay to build. Looks like ole Leo is fitting into the GCS culture very well…unfortunately. Maybe it’s time to write a counter-counterpoint of my own.

GCS strives to keep building costs down


By Leo Bobadilla

The following is a Counterpoint:

Guilford County Schools would like to expand on the recent News & Record article, “Sizing up spending in Guilford Schools” (Sept. 30).

The perception of some has been that GCS is building schools that cost substantially more than what is being built in other districts across the state. The reality is that, due to inflation and other factors, districts across the state and the nation are paying more to build schools.

During the last three years, school construction costs have risen statewide by more than 50 percent. During that same period, GCS has succeeded in keeping cost increases well under that amount.

For several years now, our county has experienced tremendous growth. As our county grows, so does our school system. GCS is the third-largest school district in North Carolina, serving more than 71,000 students at 119 schools. Moving forward, GCS will be taking several steps to learn from the lessons of the past while preparing for future construction projects. Steps include:
* conducting post-occupancy evaluations of new schools;
* developing a process to revisit and update standards and specifications, as needed;
* receiving broader community input;
* planning budgets based on available cost data and market conditions;
* and encouraging design features that reduce total costs over the life span of a building.

We will continue to work toward providing schools that save taxpayers’ money in the long term, while working within our budgets. In the past, we have done this by setting design goals that include reducing operating costs, protecting our environment, designing buildings that teach, improving academic performance and designing for health, safety and comfort.
GCS has encouraged architects to build holistic, innovative and green schools that tie into the curriculum. Not only has this provided a positive learning environment for our children, it also reduces our operating costs.

In construction, time is money. GCS has been and will continue to be a good steward of the public’s dollars. The district will continue to explore all possible avenues to protect taxpayers’ interests, without compromising quality and safety.

The writer is chief operations officer, Guilford County Schools.


I nearly choked on my coffee when I read that this morning! This is 100% pure, ripe, unadulterated spin. As a parent and taxpayer, I’m offended and insulted.
Okay, let’s read some of the N&R reader comments, then hear from me…



nitpicker said:

Yada yada yada, blah blah blah.



James D. Rockefeller said:

“you speak my mind”, Nitpicker.

Gimme a call, Mr. Bobadilla. I’d enjoy working with you to meet your stated goals.



Oak Ridge Runner said:

Talk is cheap. Tell us why Charlotte can build a high school for $53 M for 2,000 students and GCS is proposing to build a high school for $88 M for 1,500 students. The numbers don’t work.



Darryl said:

This sentence alone should tell any informed person in GC that this guy is a chronic liar; “GCS has been and will continue to be a good steward of the public’s dollars.”

The above is why the school board voted to shift funds from 17 (SEVENTEEN) bond projects of 2000 & 2003 to the rebuilding of EGHS! So tell me, is that being a “good steward of the public’s dollars?”

Just my two cents worth!



4 Responses

  1. You, sir, are a breath of fresh air when it comes to clearing the air from the sitting school board. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thank you, Ms. Almond, for writing in…and please tell your friends and neighbors about my campaign and this website/blog. GCS needs a truth detector, and that’s the purpose of this blog. I’m happy to do it.

  3. Mr. Huey,
    You may have seen today’s paper and the mentioning of the high schools being proposed in Char-Meck ($54 million, not including land). Perhaps GCS could benefit from taking a similar approach with the design competition, but Char-Meck took a big risk: it spent $6 million, financed through certificates of participation, to design the high schools last year. If the bond in November doesn’t pass, the taxpayers will be paying for designs of schools that won’t be immediately built. As I have found in reporting these construction stories, you can’t always take the numbers you see at face value; there are typically hidden costs there you need to see to put things in perspective.

  4. And I do understand that, but GCS is going to have to start thinking outside of the box and begin making plans to do things fundamentally different. Enrollment is down across the GCS system. The funding formula needs to be changed, and these are things that need to be addressed by our board and that’s not being done right now. And these two things alone have a lot to do with school construction.

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