CLINCH COUNTY SCHOOLS – ESPLOST 2021
1. What is an EDUCATION SPLOST (ESPLOST)?
An Education Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax allows local districts to ask voters for the ability to levy and collect a one percent sales tax to help fund school facility and equipment improvements. It cannot be used to pay operating expenses, such as salaries. ESPLOSTs are enacted by referendum.
2. When is the ESPLOST vote?
Tuesday, March 16, 2021. The polls will be open from 7 am to 7 pm. Early voting begins February 22, 2021. During early voting, the office is open from 9-12 and 1-5.
3. Would the proposed ESPLOST be a tax increase?
NO! If approved, the sales tax would remain at its current level. A “yes” vote would simply extend the current 1% sales tax for education an additional five years or until $4.5 million has been collected, whichever comes first.
4. Why do we need to extend our current ESPLOST and build a new K-12 facility?
A comprehensive facility study was recently conducted of our current schools. It has been determined that the cost of upgrading CCEMS and CCHS is greater than the state funding to construct a new K-12 facility. To maximize our money from the state and to insure all of our children are in modern, safe, and secure facilities, we are planning for a new PreK-12 facility.
5. Are any state funds available for construction of a new school?
The Clinch County School System qualifies for Low Wealth Project Specific Funding which is designed to assist systems that rank in the bottom 25% in SPLOST earnings to build schools. Through this program, we are eligible for approximately $38 million for a K-12 facility. The total cost of the project is approximately $49 million.
6. Will the school system need to renew the ESPLOST in future years?
Yes. The school system will need to issue bonds for up to $10 million. Because that is more than this five year SPLOST cycle will collect, renewal ESPLOSTs will be necessary to retire the bonds. This is a common practice used in school systems to accomplish major projects.
7. Why an ESPLOST?
The ESPLOST is not a property tax. It provides a method of funding the cost of educational improvements that everyone, not just property owners, contributes to. Additionally, the sales tax is paid by everyone who shops in Clinch County.
8. Why isn’t the money being used for teacher salaries?
State laws prohibit using ESPLOST proceeds for salaries.
9. What are some considerations in the design of the building?
SAFETY & SEPARATION. Schools today are designed with student safety in mind. They are designed with fewer exterior entrances, better security features, improved sight lines for monitoring, etc. With the current health pandemic, they are also designed to provide better indoor air quality and reduce the number of allergens and pathogens in the buildings.
As this will be a PK-12 facility, the separation of students will be a top priority. We will have a design where the younger students are totally separated from the older students. We can also group and separate the students in traditional grade spans (PK-5), (6-8), and (9-12).
10. Why should people who do not have children in school support the ESPLOST extension?
The ESPLOST extension helps keep ad valorem taxes stable. Additionally, the children are not the only ones who benefit from good schools. The social and economic strength of a community are greatly influenced by the school system. Good schools mean well-prepared citizens, a strong labor market, and an inviting atmosphere for living and working. Having quality facilities sends the message that education is important to our community.
11. What would happen if the EPLOST did not pass?
If the ESPLOST does not pass in March, we would not be able to construct a new school. We would need to have another election to renew the ESPLOST to continue to maintain our current buildings that are 30 and 40 years old. If that ESPLOST did not pass, we would have to rely on property taxes to maintain our aging facilities.
12. What will the ballot question look like?
GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND AND ESPLOST ELECTION
Shall the Clinch County School District issue general obligation bonds in a principal amount not to exceed $10,000,000 to pay the costs of (a) the construction, equipping and furnishing of a new K-12 school, including parking areas, grounds, necessary real and personal property, and necessary furnishings, equipment, and fixtures for such school; (b) to the extent that funds are available, acquisition of any property, both real and personal, and equipment necessary for the School District including renovations and improvements to system-wide buildings and facilities, pre-K classrooms, athletic facilities, system-wide technology improvements, physical education equipment, vocational equipment, fine arts equipment, safety and security equipment, and (c) financing the costs of issuance of such bonds including capitalized interest, AND shall a one percent sales and use tax for educational purposes be reimposed in Clinch County for a period of time not to exceed 20 consecutive calendar quarters commencing upon the termination of the one percent sales and use tax for educational purposes presently in effect for the raising of not more than $4,500,000 for the purpose of funding the payment of (a) a portion of the principal and interest on the above described general obligation bonds and (b) acquiring or purchasing new buses and transportation equipment and a portion of the costs of the above described capital outlay projects not paid for with proceeds from said general obligation bonds?