The screw-ups at GCS hurt taxpayers, hurt our children

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

(source, Rhino Times)

It is no secret that Guilford County Schools is a broken system. And for this past year, this blog has helped to expose just how broken it is, along with my strong, intense desire to fix things. I won’t be able to fix the mess on Eugene Street alone, but with new blood downtown, we can at least attempt to right the wrongs.

This is no exception.

This week’s Rhino Times, Greensboro’s premier publication of record, has a follow-up and analysis on the recent School Board meeting, and it is precisely this “what else happened at the meeting” that has me on edge today.

The screw-ups have to stop.

Rhino excerpts:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. [Board chairman Alan] Duncan then passed the buck, as the school board loves to do. He said that the tests were mandated by the state and federal government and the school board had to give the tests and had to do its best to prepare students to take the tests. He said many school board members would agree that the students are overtested, but there is nothing they can do about it.

Duncan then said that the state had cut Guilford County Schools’ funding by several million dollars, that Guilford County had not given the schools all the money that they had asked for and had cut $3 million from the capital budget.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.  Screw-up number one: passing the buck and playing the blame game.

I discussed this a few days ago. Passing the buck and playing the classic blame game is dangerous for our children. No one wants to take any sort of responsibility and, in my opinion, this is classic irresponsible governing. We’re sick of it. A commenter here said it best a few days ago: “Alan Duncan stepped in it.” He sure did.



The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Earlier in the meeting school board member Darlene Garrett had questions about construction projects and said that she had not been given the information she had requested from the school staff about Northern High School and Northern Elementary, so she was requesting it publicly. Garrett said that Northern High School didn’t have money to pay for its telephone and other monthly expenses.

The new Northern High School campus is slated to open in January, and the Northern students are currently at Northwest and Northeast high schools, but Northern according to Garrett, still needs money to pay its monthly bills. Garrett said the students were having fundraisers to pay the school’s phone bill and that wasn’t fair.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Guilford County Schools Chief Financial Officer Sharon Ozment said that in the past, new schools had not been given seed money to get started and Northern was handled the same way. Then Ozment said that Northern had been given money, which seemed contradictory, but since almost everything said at school board meetings is in code, it could mean that they weren’t given any money or that every school that wasn’t given seed money was given money.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. May I present screw-up number two: Sharon Ozment. Now now, I’m not knocking Sharon, I’m knocking the situation. See, being the chief financial officer for GCS, “Oz” makes a pretty good buck ($145,866) according to the Rhino Times Salary Survey back over the summer. Oz is well-compensated.

But this is the second or third board meeting in a row where Oz was asked to provide documents and/or information and it was not provided.

In this case, Garrett asked for information on simply…where the money is going. It is criminally insane that a school has to create a fundraiser to pay its telephone bill. That information was not provided and Garrett got upset. She had every right to be upset. Taxpayer money seems to mysteriously disappear within GCS, and honestly, I probably would have gotten just as upset.

So let’s see, school department budgets are regularly cut, teachers have to buy soap for school bathrooms, copy paper is rationed, teachers have to buy ink cartridges for their classroom printers…and now, fundraisers are held to pay for a school telephone bill.

And they expect a bond to get passed?


There’s more:

 Garrett also noted that Reedy Fork and Northern elementary schools were essentially the same school, but Reedy Fork cost $2 million more. Garrett said that Northern Elementary didn’t have covered walkways and “it’s just not right.”

A motion to accept the bid for $430,000 from Lomax Construction for heating and air-conditioning at Oak Ridge Elementary School passed by a 10-to-1 vote with board member Amos Quick voting no.

Garrett said that adding heating and airconditioning to Oak Ridge, which was recently renovated, is an “example of lack of planning.” She said that the schools could have saved $300,000 if it had been included instead of added after the fact.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Screw-up number three…Reedy Fork cost $2 million more to build because it has covered walkways? And you, Mr. and Mrs. Guilford County taxpayer, just spent $300,000 to add HVAC to Oak Ridge Elementary after-the-fact, instead of having that included in the renovation plans!

Yet, another reason why all construction-related matters should be outsourced from GCS. Part of that $300,000 could have been used to pay Northern’s phone bills!


Last excerpt:

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. [Board member Garth] Hebert wanted to know why it took the child nutrition staff to figure out that the kitchen at Southeast High School needed a ventilation system. The explanation was that in between the time the specs were completed and the project put out to bid, the specs changed. Hebert didn’t like the explanation very much but the project has to be put out to be rebid because the old specs didn’t have an adequate ventilation system.

The school board expects the voters of Guilford County to give it another $457 million to spend on schools when it is obvious the last bond money has not been well spent. Engineers are designing kitchens without ventilation systems and the only ones to notice are the nutrition workers.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. Screw-up number four…cafeteria workers are now construction advisors! And pointing out to professional staff that their workplace is not ventilated.

John Hammer closed this article in a pretty good way:

It certainly doesn’t appear to be an efficient operation.

Well-said, well-spoken.  It’s not efficient at all. It’s a broken system. It’s past time to fix this broken system.

E.C. 🙂


One Response

  1. Keep on diggin Eric!

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