Fayette, we have a list
Three weeks ahead of the E-SPLOST referendum, the Fayette County School System has unveiled a spending list of how between $95 million and $107 million in sales tax collections will be allocated beginning in 2014.
If voters on Nov. 6 approve the continuation of the 1-percent E-SPLOST sales tax, the funds would be used like this (based on collections of $95 million):
• 39 percent for curriculum, instruction and technology.
• 37 percent for maintenance, renovations and modifications — but NO artificial turf for stadiums.
• Slightly under 14 percent for things like school buses, classroom and administrative furniture, and surveillance cameras.
• Slightly under 11 percent to pay down bond debt.
The Fayette County Board of Education recently approved the ballot measure that carries a maximum ceiling of $107 million over a 5-year collection period.
It is estimated that the one-cent sales tax renewal will generate up to $95 million over its five-year lifespan, according to school system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach.
The school system in breaking down the uses for the collections based those expenditures on the $95 million figure.
A breakdown of the intended uses shows $10 million going toward paying down the bond debt and lowering the bond property millage rate.
Berry-Dreisbach said the bond millage rate has decreased every year since tax collections started, resulting in reduced property taxes of $434 on a $250,000 home. For a chart showing the decrease, visit the school system’s website, www.fcboe.org
Berry-Dreisbach said the largest portion of the collections, totaling $37 million, will be spent on curriculum, instruction and technology.
While other priority areas have detailed lists of projects, this category is more general, citing areas such as interactive classroom equipment, digital textbooks, printers and copiers for classrooms and schools.
Once a project is specified, it is difficult to change, even if it suddenly becomes obsolete or is no longer needed. Technology is a good example, Berry-Dreisbach said.
“New advances in technology have provided instructional opportunities that were not envisioned when the 2008 E-SPLOST was approved,” said Berry-Dreisbach.
“The tax proceeds enabled the school system to start the ‘Bring Your Own Technology’ (BYOT) program this year at all middle and high schools, and, if the E-SPLOST is maintained, at elementary schools by next year. Wi-Fi capabilities allow students to use their electronic devices in class at the direction of their teachers, making learning more relevant and engaging.
“BYOT was not specifically listed in the first E-SPLOST, but this nationally proven program has provided students with a valuable learning tool that otherwise would not have been possible,” she said.
A total of $35 million has been set aside for maintenance, renovations and modifications. This does not include artificial turf at stadiums, Berry-Dreisbach said, adding that citizens can visit the school system’s website to see the list of projects.
The last area, safety and support, will receive $13 million for items such as school buses, classroom and administrative furniture, and surveillance cameras, said Berry-Dreisbach.
“The Fayette County Board of Education thanks the county’s voters for approving the 2008 E-SPLOST referendum,” said Berry-Dreisbach. “The school system was able to provide students with updated computer equipment that meets national standards, and instructional materials and programs that would not have been possible without E-SPLOST.
“Without the extension of the current E-SPLOST, the school system will not be able to continue to upgrade its technology infrastructure and purchase textbooks, learning materials, and school buses as needed.
“Repairs and refurbishments to existing facilities will be either deferred or paid for from operational funds where necessary. There will be many lost opportunities for Fayette County students,” said Berry-Dreisbach.