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Special-purpose local-option sales tax – (SPLOST) FAQ

Forwarded from Amy Powers:

On November 8, voters in DeKalb County will be asked to continue the SPLOST for schools, the one-penny sales tax dedicated to much-needed capital and technology improvements to classrooms, schoolhouses, and sports facilities across the county. This is not a new tax. The school SPLOST has been in place for fifteen years, and vote of ‘yes’ to SPLOST will keep DeKalb’s sales tax at the same 7% rate it has been since 1997. More than 30% of funds collected by SPLOST are paid by visitors from outside of DeKalb County.

What will a ‘YES’ vote and passage mean for Fernbank and our neighborhoods?

After a county-wide facilities assessment conducted by an outside engineering firm, the school system determined that the condition of Fernbank’s current facility ranked among the lowest in the county. As a result, the school system has included a new building for Fernbank and seven other schools among its specific list of projects, a list which cannot by altered by the county. If voters approve SPLOST in November, state law requires that these projects occur.

If SPLOST passes, Fernbank will receive a new, state-of-the-art building that will accommodate all its students, faculty, and staff, without any trailers. The new building will meet today’s educational suitability standards, make the most of sustainable engineering and technology, and serve not just our children, but many generations to follow. During construction, Fernbank’s students and teachers will use the currently empty Avondale Middle School (just north of the intersection of E. College & N. Clarendon near downtown Avondale Estates — a nice building that’s about 10 years old, with plenty of parking and even two tennis courts) for 2-3 semesters while the new schoolhouse is built. The new building could be ready for students and teachers as early as January 2014. Because the new building will accommodate more children, we can expect Fernbank’s attendance zone to enlarge, and include more homes not currently zoned to Fernbank.

What happens if the school SPLOST does not pass?

If SPLOST does not pass, a portion of the homestead exemption for DeKalb homeowners will automatically disappear, thereby raising property taxes for 2012 and beyond. Revenue from elimination of that portion of the homestead exemption will be insufficient to fund the specific SPLOST project list. Rather, that much smaller revenue will be used to cover bonds already issued for a new building for Chamblee High School. Finally, without funding for a new Fernbank facility, school system officials have advised that Fernbank will be placed on the next redistricting agenda.

What will the school SPLOST do for other schools, including Druid Hills High School and schools in Decatur?

If you or neighbors are interested in what SPLOST will do for Laurel Ridge, Briar Vista, Avondale, Druid Hills High School, or Adams Stadium (nothing for the Middle School – it just had its renovation), you can find those details at www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/splost-iv. Laurel Ridge, Briar Vista, and Avondale, along with all elementary schools in the county, will finally get HVAC in their gymnasiums and long-overdue updated systems (like electrical, plumbing, sewer), and Druid Hills High School will have all of the plumbing fixtures throughout the building replaced, as well as replacement of the interior water piping in all buildings but the new addition. You also can get lots of great info about SPLOST and what it will do for various schools and other systems, like Decatur, by finding and liking Friends of DeKalb Education on Facebook — www.facebook.com/friends.of.dekalb.education. Additional information on SPLOST from the City Schools of Decatur can be found athttp://www.csdecatur.net/SPLOST/more.

What is happening with Medlock’s school building?

On Monday, October 3, the Board of Education is scheduled to approve a Letter of Intent to lease the Medlock school building to the International Community School, a charter school that has been operating for approximately 10 years. ICS is a K-6 public charter school, serving just over 400 students from 40 nations. The school is an authorized International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme school and has a standard classroom ratio of 10:1. After native speakers of languages other than English complete the rigorous English as a second language program, they join their classmates in studying either French or Spanish. We expect students and faculty of ICS will move into their new home either this spring semester or next fall semester. For more information about ICS, you can visit www.icsgeorgia.org.

Upcoming Meetings on the School and SPLOST

Both the Fernbank PTA and the Emory LaVista Parent Council will have presentations on the school SPLOST at their October meetings. The PTA meeting is October 18 at 6:00 p.m., and the ELPC meeting is October 19 at 9:00 a.m., both in the Fernbank cafeteria. If you have any additional questions, you can contact Fernbank parents serving on the county-wide SPLOST advocacy committee: Marshall Orson, marshall.orson@devonwoodmedia.com; Amy Power, amypower@bellsouth.net; Susan-Anne MacKenna, sasmack@gmail.com; and Jeff DiSantis, jeff@disantis.com.

If you or someone you know would like a yard sign supporting the school SPLOST, please contact Susan-Anne MacKenna at the above address.

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