Money transferred for school safety in Guilford County

Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston said the county approved the transfer of $ 6.4 million into a School Safety project fund that was created in 2019.

GUILFORD COUNTY, NC – Schools in Guilford County now have access to more money to fund school safety and security, after the Guilford County Board of Commissioners transferred $ 6.4 million into a fund last week.

The School Safety Capital Project Ordinance was created in 2019, according to Guilford County. The initial project ordinance was for $ 10 million, with $ 600,000 being put towards a school safety and security improvements study.

In June of 2020, the county voted to take $ 5 million from this fund and pair it with $ 10 million in CARES money to help schools in the county prepare to safely reopen during the height of the pandemic. The county said those funds went toward window replacements and HVAC units.

After that, $ 4.4 million was left in the fund, according to the county.

This past week, at a May 5th meeting, the county commissioners approved the remaining $ 4.4 million to go toward updates to the radio infrastructure communications inside school buildings.

The county said this will help first respondents have access to their radios once inside the school buildings. The school district said this technology will help first respondents and internal staff to communicate in the event of emergencies.

“Most of our law enforcement folks to go into our schools, emergency services to go into our schools, they can’t transmit properly with their radios because you have concrete walls in the schools since now they are over 60 years old,” said Guilford County Commission Chair Skip Alston.

The commissioners also took action to approve the transfer of $ 2 million that was initially in the Career and Technical Education fund for Guilford County Schools, and move that to be used for school safety.

The district said in a memo that it was initially anticipated adding more square footage to Ben L. Smith High School for the Signature Academy of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering. Smith High School is included in the next phase of the facilities master plan, and the district said it wants to avoid spending money on a space that could interfere with the design of that full renovation, so it requested a transfer of money.

“Kids are in the schools now and they have to go back again this coming fall so the school system is just trying to put some things in place to take care of the schools when the kids come back in the fall. All of this money will be spent basically immediately preparing for the next school year, “said Alston.

The county said the $ 2 million will be appropriated to purchase cameras and door scanners. The schools are expected to issue an RFP for this equipment soon, according to the county. The county said the school district is researching newer technology to help improve safety at several schools in the district.

Guilford County Schools requested the county’s approval for the use of these funds back in March.

Alston said this money will be available to the district almost immediately. It’s not clear which schools will benefit.

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