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BOE to consider putting its next SPLOST vote on November ballot

POSTED: July 30, 2014 12:00 p.m.

The Barrow County School Board could vote Thursday on putting a renewal of the Special Local Option Sales Tax question for residents to vote on for the November ballot.

The school district’s financial advisor, Tom Owens with Raymond James, recommended at Tuesday’s wok session and called board meeting that the board approve a SPLOST renewal with a cap of $58 million, which would go toward paying off current debt as well as constructing two new elementary schools, the first of which would likely be located on the same site off McNeal Road and Candler Street as the new Russell Middle will be built.

To get the item on the November ballot the board would have to approve moving forward with SPLOST V (which begins October 2016) at a 6 p.m. Thursday called board meeting. SPLOST IV, which runs through September of 2016, will help fund the new Russell Middle.

Owens said the board could certainly hold off and put the vote on a later ballot, but if it fails there are fewer options to fall back on. The only potential dates to put the question on the ballot are November 2014, spring 2015, November 2015 and spring 2016.

Most of the money projected to be raised in the new SPLOST – Owens and the Barrow financial department are projecting anywhere from $43.8 million raised (flat sales tax) to the cap of $58 million (six percent growth) – would go to paying off debt.

"You need to renew," Owens said. "You’ll put 37 million toward prior obligations (debt) before spending any of the new SPLOST.

Whatever is remaining would be prioritized toward the first and the second new elementary school, although the ballot question would also include the possibility of using the money for new furnishings and technology, as needed.

The two new elementary schools will cost roughly $15 million each, according to Barrow Executive Director of Systems Operations Joe Perno, with the state generally providing between $5 and $6 million toward each school’s construction.

Depending on how much the projected new SPLOST would generate then, the board could decide how to cover any extra funding needed to fund the two school’s construction.

Board member Lynn Stevens said the necessity of getting the SPLOST and constructing the two new schools in a timely fashion – the first elementary school is tentatively scheduled to begin being constructed December 2015 and finish April 2017, is a necessity for the growing district.

"We’ve already got trailers at most schools, so we’re going to need these two schools in the next few years," she said. "If this doesn’t pass, then we’d have to wait a year (before putting it on the ballot again) and we need those schools funded. We can tell the voters that if we don’t approve the SPLOST, then it will be funded by a property tax increase."

Barrow approved the current SPLOST in 2010.

 

Other agenda items

The board put five additional items on the consent agenda for Thursday’s board meeting, including accepting bids for security cameras, projectors/screens and additional room audio systems at Sims Academy and additional school laptops and mobile devices for a number of schools. The board will also vote Thursday on its new training plan.

 

Personnel report

The board approved the hiring of 23 new certified personnel, even more classified personnel and accepted the resignations of four teachers and a number of classified personnel.

 

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