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Archive for January 10th, 2013

BOE director threatens to sue Guilford County

Guilford County Board of Elections Director George Gilbert is threatening to sue the county, the Rhino’s Scott Yost reports:

Gilbert has acquired the services of Greensboro attorney Seth Cohen, of Smith, James, Rowlett & Cohen, who has notified the county that his client, Gilbert, hasn’t been compensated fairly by the county for years, and the letter requests that Guilford County provide Gilbert with a raise retroactive for three years.

Cohen’s letter, which was hand-delivered to the county on Thursday, Dec. 20, requests that Guilford County pay Gilbert a lump sum of $42,103, which, the letter states, Gilbert considers a “reasonable resolution to this unfortunate problem.” That sum, according to the letter, is the total of a cash settlement of $35,298 in suggested back pay combined with adjustments to Gilbert’s 401(k) plan and related benefits he would have been entitled to if his salary had been at that level for the last three years.

Gilbert, who has announced that he’s retiring on March 1, currently makes $99,319 a year as the county’s elections director.

The irony here is Gilbert was one of 15 county department heads who received a raise following a secret vote by the previous Board of Commissioners. The justification for the raises, the board was told, was fear that employees would file equitable-pay lawsuits. The new Republican-majority board took up the issue in December, but voted to uphold the raises. As a result, Gilbert received a $1,947 raise.

But Gilbert’s attorney says this possible suit has nothing to do with that. —Gilbert, he claims, has not been compensated fairly compared to BOE directors in similar counties in a manner required by state law.

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It’s official: No airport-area high school

We knew this already, but now it’s official. At its Tuesday night meeting the Guilford County Board of Education voted not to pursue an airport-area high school after a multitude of problems, foremost of which was acquiring land.

The price tag was included in the $450 million bond passed by voters in 2008, leaving GCS to decide what to do with the $70-plus million slated for the new high school:

The vote was preceded by a public comment period where several speakers on behalf of High Point Central High School criticized spending money on a new school when existing schools are badly in need of repairs and renovations.

A lack of classrooms and a lack of adequate space in the High Point Central cafeteria and media center were common complaints made by the speakers.

Anthony Sedberry suggested that $40 million of the $75 million bond funds that would be spent on the airport area high school be earmarked for improvements to High Point Central.

OK, I realize acquiring land was a real problem, considering the fact that Piedmont Triad International Airport and the Town of Kernersville are carefully guarding every acre of available land for airport-related development. But read this from the N&R’s (unposted) report:

The high school was intended to relieve crowding at Northwest, Western and Southwest high schools. But enrollment growth slowed during the recession.

Expanded noise zones around the airport sowed residential growth around the area. and the board struggled to find suitable land….

Just strikes how something that seemed so urgent a mere four yeas ago isn’t quite so urgent now. That’s a cautionary tale when government pitches a project, whether it’s a new high school or a downtown performing arts center.

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