Open Letter to the Guilford County Commissioners Regarding the Local Budget Vote

Greetings Commissioners,

Attached you will find a copy of our spring petition. It references the 5 priority issues we brought to the NC General Assembly on May 1 of this year.

  • Provide $15 minimum wage for all school personnel, 5% raise for all ESPs (non-certified staff), teachers, admin, and a 5% cost of living adjustment for retirees
  • Provide enough school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals to meet national standards
  • Expand Medicaid to improve the health of our students and families
  • Reinstate state retiree health benefits eliminated by the General Assembly in 2017
  • Restore advanced degree compensation stripped by the General Assembly in 2013​

We collected 1, 297 signatures on our petition that reads:

“We the undersigned join the NC Association of Educators in urging the NC General Assembly to immediately pass legislation and fully fund the five demands listed above.

Additionally, we join with Guilford County Association of Educators in urging the Guilford County Commissioners to:

 

  • -fund classified staff positions at the $15 minimum wage demanded of the state for any staff paid out of local funds;
  • -make an immediate good faith downpayment of no less than $36,210,375 in new funds as identified in the capital renewal budgets beginning on page 111 of the Guilford County Schools Joint Facilities Study to replace systems that will surpass their useful life this year.”

 

As employees of Guilford County Schools we find the current local budget recommendations unacceptable.

“The current tax rate does not produce enough recurring revenues to maintain the current budgets for major facility maintenance needs…” reads the County Manager’s message regarding the current budget recommendation. Despite clearly acknowledging that Guilford County is not meeting current levels of need, the County Manager goes on to make recommendations that include no change to local property taxes writing, “The proposed budget recommends a general county tax rate of 73.05 cents per $100 of assessed valuation – no change from the current rate.”

 

Not only do the budget recommendations not meet the GCS budget request (modest compared to the needs assessed in the Facilities Study), but there is currently no clear path forward to explain to those of us who work in schools every day how long we should expect to wait to have basic expectations met such as working air conditioners when it is ninety-plus degrees, or a living wage so that classified employees aren’t forced to wonder if they will make ends meet every month.

 

As you vote on a local budget tonight, please take a moment to consider what it’s like to walk in our shoes. Consider the living conditions many of our students face and that not meeting what should be alarming levels of need has a negative impact on their learning. In the past few years, the Guilford County Commissioners have taken a unanimous vote on the annual budget. If tonight’s budget doesn’t fully fund the GCS budget request, if it doesn’t lay out a clear path forward for meeting the needs clearly documented in the Facilities Study, and if it doesn’t include real and substantive pay increases for classified and certified staff, we ask you to vote no. There is no value in political unity that does not meet the need of your constituents.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration to these urgent matters

Sincerely,

Todd Warren

President, Guilford County Association of Educators

Petition Picture

 

 

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