GCS Superintendent testifies to Congress: What are the impacts?


GCS Superintendent Sharon Contreras addresses the audience of a school board meeting. Earlier this month, Contreras went to D.C and testified before a congressional committee about infrastructure in public schools.

Earlier this month, Guilford County Superintendent Sharon Contreras traveled to Washington D.C to testify before a U.S House of Representatives committee on the need for increased federal funding in public schools.

Contreras cited that the low quality conditions and high number of maintenance calls the district handles as evidence of the failing infrastructure system.

“Our maintenance staff responds to more than 30,000 work orders annually, many for failing HVAC units, plumbing systems, leaky roofs and other basic building needs,” Contreras said in her testimony.

Contreras’ message of the importance in fixing infrastructure in schools brings to mind the mobile units of Guilford County, some of which have been around for over fifteen years.

Citing a recent facility study, Contreras was able to put a figure to how much it would cost to solve the infrastructure problems of Guilford County.

“(The facility study) indicated that we need more than $1.5 billion in capital investment to renovate and upgrade current facilities and build new schools,” Contreras said to the congressional committee.

Contreras’ willingness to take action in an attempt to better conditions in the county may help to better her reputation in the school; many students are frustrated with the County’s seemingly sporadic judgement and decision making, and hold Contreras accountable.

“I feel like the way she handles things is random,” junior Carlos Nunez said. “She constantly changes things.”

A testament to Contreras’ leadership capability serves her well, as the school board voted last month to renew Contreras’ contract through 2022.

Despite Contreras’ efforts, it is likely that the federal government will not approve any significant funding in the near future. Both chambers of congress are set to go into recess the third full week of March, and two weeks after Contreras’ trip, there has not been any news of steps taken.

Students did not express confidence in the prospects of receiving increased funding, but agree with Contreras that the buildings do need attention.

“The buildings do need repairs, but I doubt (the request for funding) will go through,” junior Sierra Malley said.

While Guilford County has yet to see any impact of Contreras’ visit on funding, Contreras managed to renew confidence in her leadership and call attention to the difficulties many school districts in the nation, Guilford County included, are facing with the minimal amount of federal funding received.

“It’s a good thing that she’s advocating for the improvement of public schools,” Nunez said.