GREENSBORO — Guilford County voters have embraced a $300 million school bond referendum that would allow the county to borrow money for school renovation and construction.
At the same time, they rejected a quarter-cent sales and use tax increase that county commissioners had hoped to use to help pay the debt from the school bond.
On the bond referendum, 72.5% of voters supported it, and 27.5% voted against it, according to unofficial results.
However, voters said no to increasing the local sales tax 66.9% to 33.1%, according to unofficial results. County commissioners could instead look at raising property taxes as a way to cover the school bonds.
Passage of the $300 million school bond referendum gives permission to county commissioners to issue the bonds, but does not require them to do so. If issued, the bonds must be used to fund school facilities.
County commissioners pledged they would also use the sales tax money for school construction, but could not include on the ballot information about that pledge, which is not legally binding. Commissioner Alan Branson (Information has been changed to correct an error. See correction below. 12:26 p.m. Nov. 4) had said he expected the sales tax money would go toward paying school construction bond debt if both measures passed.
The school bonds could allow the district to replace a handful of its elementary schools that are in the worst condition, build a new school in the southwest part of the county and acquire land for upcoming and future school projects.
Angie Henry, the district's chief of operations and finances, is hoping the district also might be able to use money from these bonds to rebuild Kiser Middle School, the district's next priority on its list.
Henry planned to begin work immediately on a request for qualifications for construction management or project management firms. She aims to have most of the work covered by this set of bonds completed within five years.
"We are going to have to hit the ground running and not let things slow us down," she has said.
Correction: Jeff Phillips is chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. The leadership role was incorrectly attributed to someone else when this story first published.
Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.