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Guilford County Schools gets $10.1 million insurance settlement for three tornado-damaged schools

GREENSBORO — After about a year of negotiations with its insurance company, Guilford County Schools said late Thursday it will get $10.1 million for the damage to three schools in the April 2018 tornado.

The three elementary schools — Erwin Montessori, Hampton and Peeler Open — have been sharing space with other district schools since shortly after the tornado.

“The schools were not in good shape prior to the tornado, so we knew going into negotiations that securing enough money to replace them wasn’t likely,” Scott McCully, the district’s chief operating officer, said in a release.

All three schools received poor ratings from a review of district facilities by Tampa, Fla.-based MGT Consulting Group released earlier this year. The company looked at not just the physical condition of schools and their property, but also whether the buildings meet the needs of a modern education.

Given the condition of these three schools before the tornado, McCully said the district was pleased with the settlement.

The Guilford County Board of Education voted May 14 to close Hampton permanently, citing in part the condition of the building. The school also is near a former landfill monitored by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The district plans to use part of the insurance proceeds from Travelers Indemnity Corporation (Travelers) to design a new Hampton-Peeler School for East Greensboro, with the rest coming from a future bond issue.

The district said the cost to build a new elementary in the state last year ranged from $13.9 million to $29.6 million, depending on size.

All that Jazz

Diana Tuffin, Matt Kendrick and Neill Clegg (left to right) perform during Thursday Night Cocktails and Jazz at the O.Henry Hotel in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday, May 30, 2019.

Thursdays at the O.Henry Hotel cater to music lovers. From 6-9 p.m. each Thursday, the Green Valley Road hotel hosts jazz music in its social lobby. The O.Henry Trio — Dave Fox (piano), Neill Clegg (saxophone, clarinet and flute) and Matt Kendrick (double bass) — performs with guest vocalists. They cover a range of music, including jazz classics, swing, Brazilian jazz and more.

Find more photos from Thursday’s show with guest performer Diana Tuffin at Find out who’s performing next at

Multimillion-dollar redo ahead for Bryan Boulevard interchange at New Garden and Horse Pen Creek

GREENSBORO — State and city transportation officials are planning to redo part of a heavily used Bryan Boulevard interchange to reduce car wrecks by cutting down the number of risky left turns across traffic.

City of Greensboro transportation planner Craig McKinney said they turned their attention to Bryan’s three-way intersection with New Garden and Horse Pen Creek roads because the current design triggered a relatively high accident rate.

The main improvement would be to provide a traditional “diamond leg” on-ramp to westbound Bryan Boulevard for drivers heading south on New Garden Road, McKinney said.

The new ramp also would be used by motorists coming from Horse Pen Creek Road who want to go west on Bryan, he said.

“This won’t eliminate all accidents there, but it will eliminate a predominate cause of the accidents,” McKinney said.

Right now, motorists traveling south on New Garden who want to head west onto Bryan toward Piedmont Triad International Airport must make a left turn across several northbound lanes to reach the existing ramp.

State and city transportation planners have scheduled a public meeting on the planned improvements from 4 to 7 p.m. next Thursday at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, 2715 Horse Pen Creek Road, to gather comments and suggestions from area residents.

The church, located just north of the interchange, is making its fellowship hall available for the drop-in format meeting.

Bryan’s existing westbound on-ramp also has been difficult for drivers on Horse Pen Creek Road to use, said Bobby Norburn, a Raleigh-based engineer working on the project for the N.C. Department of Transportation.

Their vision is blocked by the current road design as they start to cross New Garden to enter the existing westbound ramp, Norburn said.

“All this is what’s proposed. We have to see what the public thinks of it,” Norburn said of the public meeting’s purpose.

He noted that the improvements are being planned in conjunction with another city government project already under way: Widening Horse Pen Creek Road from the Bryan interchange to Battleground Avenue.

Work on the interchange had been scheduled to begin next year. But at a recent meeting, the Greensboro-area Metropolitan Planning Organization decided to allow more time for planning and design by pushing construction back to 2021.

The existing Bryan Boulevard on-ramp for westbound traffic would remain in use, but only by drivers heading north on New Garden. They would continue using it as they do now, by making a right turn onto the current westbound Bryan ramp.

Transportation engineers favor such right turns that do not cross oncoming traffic as a maneuver less likely to result in a wreck. When the redesigned interchange is complete in two years, a concrete median would block all other traffic from using the current, westbound ramp.

Preliminary estimates envision total project costs of $4 million, including $2.25 million for construction, $1.25 million for right of way acquisition and $500,000 to relocate utility lines.

Residents attending the public meeting next Thursday will see two options to critique, one of which would make room for Bryan Boulevard’s new on-ramp by moving the neighborhood street Carly’s Way to the north.

The other choice would eliminate Carly’s Way as a through street, creating instead several cul-de-sacs that would provide enough clearance for the on-ramp on land now occupied by the neighborhood street.

Public officials want to gather opinions about both options and any other suggestions that residents might have at next week’s meeting.

City transportation planners don’t favor the cul-de-sac approach, McKinney said. It would leave some neighborhoods around the church with only one public street, St. Paul’s Lane, for access to that residential area, he said.

McKinney said that for subdivisions of any significant size planners prefer to have at least two public streets for motorists to enter and leave. That’s so people have a way in and out if one of the streets is closed for some reason, he said.

In addition to providing the new on-ramp, the proposed interchange improvements also include adding a sidewalk to the New Garden Road bridge over Bryan Boulevard, and widening short section of New Garden Road and parts of two existing ramps, according to state DOT planning documents.

An interesting article in today's newspaper

A little help: Vanessa Ferguson adds her voice to Dudley High’s choir performance tonight. Page A2

Frustrated and disappointed, Guilford educators say more money is needed for schools

GREENSBORO — Members of the Guilford County Association of Educators on Thursday voiced their disappointment and frustration with the lack of funding they expect to receive from the county and state next fiscal year.

At a news conference held outside the Guilford County Courthouse, educators said the proposed budgets in both chambers of the General Assembly are lacking in a number of areas, such as setting a $15 per hour base wage for school employees.

Shana Richards pointed out that the state has declined to provide enough money to meet the American School Counselors Association’s recommendation of having one guidance counselor for every 250 students. Richards, a guidance counselor at Southwest Guilford High School, said she has about 330 students assigned to her.

Members of the local educators association said they are also frustrated that there isn’t enough money to deal with basic needs at some schools.

Karen Meacham, a teacher at Stokesdale Elementary School, talked about how some classrooms have air conditioning and some don’t, which makes it hard to administer state-mandated tests.

In his budget proposal, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing recommends giving GuilfordCounty Schools about $6.1 million for what is known in budget terms as capital maintenance and repair — about half of what school system officials requested.

Todd Warren, the presidents of the local educators association, said Thursday afternoon that he thinks the county should provide more than $6.1 million — a lot more. Like $36 million, based on a recent independent study of school facility needs.

One problem: coming up with another $30 million.

County leaders have not raised the property tax rate in recent years and next fiscal year, which starts July 1, is no different. Lawing is recommending the same property tax rate of 73.5 cents, a level that brings the county $730.50 for every $100,000 of privately owned building or property values.

Warren, however, suggested the additional money could be found if the tax rate was increased significantly — by 9 cents.

“It’s not magic where (air conditioning) comes from,” Warren said.

Woody Marshall/News & Record  

Ron Surgeon, a school nutritionist at Southwest Middle School, speaks at the Guilford County Association of Educators’ news conference held outside the Guilford County Courthouse in Greensboro on Thursday.