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ESPLOST passes, will lead to technology upgrades at GCPS

Photo: Frank Reddy From left, school board members Mary Kay Murphy and Louise Radloff watch the results come in with school board member Daniel Seckinger and wife, Karen.

Photo: Frank Reddy From left, school board members Mary Kay Murphy and Louise Radloff watch the results come in with school board member Daniel Seckinger and wife, Karen.

SUWANEE -- Gwinnett County voters said "yes" Tuesday to an extension of the education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

School system officials reacted Tuesday with excitement. Many gathered at the district's Instructional Support Center Tuesday night to watch the results come in.

In total, 30,955 voted for the penny tax extension (60.42 pecent), while 20,277 opposed it, with a voter turnout of about 14 percent of Gwinnett County's 373,431 registered voters.

"The real winners are the voters and the students," said Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. "Our citizens are amazing, and we've had a strong show of support from the community."

Education SPLOST IV is a measure that will allow the system to collect a projected $876 million from retail sales to improve technology, build schools and make renovations during a five-year period.

For the past 15 years, Gwinnett County Public Schools has used the education SPLOST to construct 46 schools, helping the district keep up with enrollment growth. Funds have also been used to make additions and renovations to schools as well as update technology.

SPLOST supporter Sean Murphy said that technology upgrades are the real selling point for the new sales tax iteration.

"The people have spoken tonight," Murphy said. "Kids count in Gwinnett County, and new technology is on its way. It's so gratifying to see that everybody's gotten behind this effort in such a tremendous way."

The current one-cent sales tax for education expires on June 30, 2012. The Education SPLOST IV will collect from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2017. Of the projected $876 million, about $17.1 million is earmarked for Buford City Schools through an intergovernmental agreement approved earlier this year.

Buford has plans for upgrades to its existing schools as well as plans for a multipurpose facility.

During the past three iterations of SPLOST, voters have approved the tax by 60 and 70 percent, allowing public schools to collect hundreds of millions toward construction, transportation and technology.

A bulk of the funding for eCLASS (Content, Learning, Assessment and Support System) will come from new SPLOST dollars.

Using the digital content system, students can access digital content with a tablet-type device or computer.

Said Wilbanks: "The eCLASS initiative is going to allow us to change in a positive way how students use technology in the classroom."

Unlike previous extensions of the tax, technology upgrades for SPLOST IV will make up 50 percent of the total anticipated tax revenue.

Other major expenses include the installation of air conditioning systems in all Gwinnett County Public School facility gyms and kitchens.

SPLOST IV opponent Annette Rogers said she hopes that the school board will take note that "this is a high percentage of "no" votes."

Rogers said her opposition to SPLOST came about because she "didn't agree with all of the priorities of this initiative."

In addition to the technology and facility upgrades, the district also has plans to build five new schools, add on to eight existing schools and renovate a middle school in Duluth. A total of 433 new classrooms would be built for a student population that is 162,000 and growing.

Comments

motherinduluth 2 years, 10 months ago

Dear Mr. Reddy and My School Board,

I am so dissappointed that you chose to isolate yourself with your "paid" supporters in the ISC instead of being with your constituents or even just at home with your families. Your Gwinnett constituents have an average per capita income of $27,301 a year. This is the operational budget for each minute of public education in Gwinnett County. Look down and look around. Talk to those that must budget what you spend in a single moment to make it last for an entire year. Talk to teachers, custodians, parents, and students. Make some new friends and join them for lunch in the school cafeteria. Listen and hear. Look and see. If you do, I am certain you will make wise, informed decisions. Remember 3/5 of us get to vote again next year. We are watching how you spend our pennies.

Sincerely, Annette Rogers

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Mack711 2 years, 10 months ago

If you think the school board woke up this morning caring about us the citizens .....think again. They got wnat they wanted and you will not hear from them at least for the next 5 years. It is like Boortz said. ' All of this is for the CHILDREN' That may not be the case.

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richtfan 2 years, 10 months ago

bingo. the idea that they care about anything but boosting their bloated budgets is ridiculous. i guess joe paterno thought what they were doing was "for the children" as well........

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jenelaw 2 years, 10 months ago

Let's not be a sore loser. You and others like you have spread your venom over the past weeks for a district that has done nothing but improve the education of Gwinnett County students. There is no evidence to suggest otherwise with the exception of some articles written in the AJC that were proven to be full of inaccurate information. GCPS is the largest school system in the state and one of the largest systems in the nation. Your operating budget comment is ridiculous. You cannot compare a family income to the operating budget of a massive school system. Thank goodness that 60% of the voters in Gwinnett are educated enough to see through the accusations of people like you.

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motherinduluth 2 years, 10 months ago

When did GCPS stop being Public Schools? The public (yes, PS stands for Public Schools, not Political System), regardless of their income or "association", could help GCPS prioritize spending by pointing out needs that would otherwise go unmet and the disparity cycle could be broken. The budget comparison seems difficult for you to fathom. Me too. Would you like to point out a mathematical or factual error just a "how dare I" compare the GCPS budget with that of its constituents? We all want A/C in our gyms, high tech in our children's hands, and anything new and shiny. It's just that in the current economy, we need some frugal options. For example, GCPS recently purchased $3,500 Custom Logo Rugs for a school where the teachers list their most urgent need as tissues, some copy paper, and/or paper towels. (I don't work for the AJC, and am not aware that anything I've said has been printed anywhere else. I take full responsibility.) As for the insult to my education, although I do not believe the educational level of parents should be a factor in the education our children receive in GCPS, I'm pretty sure I'd fall into your "exceeds" category. Statistically, I must concede that the 60%, like our school board (and me), are more educated, more white, and more affluent than the majority of GCPS constituents.

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kevin 2 years, 10 months ago

sorry, but this renewals is a gigantic mistake for people in gwinnett. another screwed up election

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JV 2 years, 10 months ago

...said Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks. "Our citizens are amazing, and we've had a strong show of support from the community."

They sure are some amazing citizens. 800K+ with 300K+ registered voters and only around 50K came out to vote.

I'll just buy more online and avoid some more of the state and local sales taxes.

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Mack711 2 years, 10 months ago

That is why Charolette Nash did not put the alchol sales on the ballot. She probably knew that if that were there the E-SPLOST would not have passed. Most do not care about the penny tax unless ii directly involves you.It is a shame the not more voted in the polls than actually did. Rest assured we, the citizens will be watching very closely.

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MelissaLipnutz 2 years, 10 months ago

Odd that this funding need wasn't anticipated and included in the current and future property tax assessments. I note that education expense is already the largest part of my total bill. Probably more of a stop gap to fill in lower than anticipated revenue from taxpayers and the federal government. The latter affected in no small part by the recent outflux of documentation-challenged residents.

Sales taxes are regressive, and by their nature impact the least affluent purchasers of goods. I can simply continue to avoid the tax by buying big-ticket items from out of state vendors.

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Ahelmstetter 2 years, 10 months ago

Lets be clear here. 60% of Gwinnett County voters did not vote for this tax. 14% of all registered voters cast a vote yesterday, and of that 14%, 60% said yes and 40% said no. I hardly call that overwhelming support.

I hardly thing that expressing opposing opinions about important issues is "spreading venom". It is the RIGHT and DUTY of everyone to discuss issues and present opinions EVEN IF THEY ARE DIFFERNT FROM YOUR OWN (shocking, I know).

Calling this an issue of "winners" and "losers" is very petty. This is an issue about our children, their education and MILLIONS of dollars. As a parent of 2 GCPS children and a prior supporter of the ESPLOT -- I did not vote in favor of it this time. The Board has not proven to me that they are good stewards of my money. I will continue to be engaged in the educational process, do my homework and talk about the issues -- even if others don't like what I have to say. I would encourage all others to do the same.

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Cleanupguy 2 years, 10 months ago

THANK YOU for being a rare voice of reason herein. I'm thinking that most here have WAY too much time on their hands, and ostensibly do not use it for analytical thought. Yes, and 5% turned out to vote for Nash, and 10% put Bannister BACK into office, yet seemingly 99% still gripe about everything. Staying ENGAGED is the key here - standing on the sidelines throwing stones is less than useless.

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ssilover1 2 years, 10 months ago

Ms. Rogers and Duluth PTA lady, you are right. We will watch how the money is spent. We also read the audits of the prior SPLOST efforts and that is why we voted YES. You are disappointed. One thing you did not mention is that some of the poll watchers are parents who are incredibly happy with our schools and grateful we can live in GC and take advantage of these schools for OUR children. And those poll watchers never look down on anyone. Everyone is struggling economically. Everyone wants the most for their penny. I have faith we will get it. And luckily your child or children wil benefit, too, no matter how you voted. Each classroom will benefit. And what will you complain about then? As for JV...you always gripe. Go shop.

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toby 2 years, 10 months ago

I have an idea, drop all property taxes and make it 2% sales tax and this way everyone contributes to the cause. "Spread the burden".

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jack 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow. Gonna build five new schools. Where will the funding come from to hire the teaching and support staff? Perhaps higher property taxes?

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Mack711 2 years, 10 months ago

They have not thought that far ahead,,,,Yet.Rest assured that property taxes will go up in the near future,

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LarryMajor 2 years, 10 months ago

Gwinnett school taxes haven’t changed in six years and we’ve opened 19 new schools during that time.

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GwinnettTeacher 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow gonna build new schools yet we have schools where teachers have over 170 students each. The schools are quickly going down and of course everyone looks the other way. Not to mention the presure by the administration in these schools to pass as many students as possible. It is no wonder we have students who barely can read and write graduating from our schools. Soon we will have the same thing happen at GCPS that occurred in Atlanta.

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 10 months ago

I voted NO. I will never believe that the county does not give our schools enough money to serve the school children of Gwinnett. The problem I see is that there are many children that attend GCPS that do not live in Gwinnett Co. I know for a fact that there are kids from APS and Dekalb that are attending our schools and claiming to live in Gwinnett County when the parents don't own a home here. Just this year, I have reported an instance that I know of in fact to the administrative offices and nothing has happened so far. This may have been happening in the past as well, but I can certainly tell now that the RE market has slowed. Very few homes are being sold in comparison to enrollment increases that I have seen given. I do not think that they do a very good job and checking residency and I also know that they are somewhat lacking on letting kids cross cluster boundaries. The taxpayers are being cheated and additional SPLOST monies most likely would not be needed if this abuse wasn't taking place. It is a very slippery slope to say the least with no real guarantee we are spending the money as it should be.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 10 months ago

Unlike smaller school districts like Fayette and Marietta, which do frequent residency checks, really big school districts like Gwinnett and Cobb don't care one iota about whether kids from outside the district attend their schools because they like to bring in and even encourage kids (gifted athletes) from other systems like DeKalb, Atlanta, Fulton, etc, to move into the district so that they can play and help schools in their districts win championships in big-time sports like basketball and the biggest big-time prep sport of all sports, FOOTBALL.

As long as big districts like Gwinnett and Cobb have kids from the urban core, South Metro Atlanta and other parts of the state and even the country knocking down their doors to play big-time prep sports and help their schools win region and state titles they will always turn a blind eye to unauthorized move-ins and look the other way on residency requirements.

Those move-ins brought into the district to play sports help schools in the district win championships in the big two sports of football and basketball which bring the acclaimed attention of national college scouts and the very big donations of boosters and fundraisers.

In addition to using big-time prep sports to raise lots of additional donations from boosters and alumni, school systems like Gwinnett and Cobb also use the highly-transient nature of their increasingly urban communities to their advantage to collect extra funding from the federal governments through poverty assistance programs.

You can report illegal transfers, unauthorized move-ins and residency violations until you are blue in the face, but in a mega-sized school district like Gwinnett where athletic move-ins are annually used to bring in championships, fame, national acclaim and sizeable monetary gifts from wealthy donors and boosters and transient students are used to bring lots of additional dollars from the state and the Feds, those residency complaints will continue to fall on totally deaf ears.

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GwinnettTeacher 2 years, 10 months ago

Wow, last year alone I reported to one of my administrators that we had a few students that didnt live in the county and one who didnt even live in this state. They ignored me because less students mean less teacher points which means less money in the school.

How about that one?

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 10 months ago

It's a numbers game. GCPS gets federal monies and other $ by keeping their enrollment numbers up. Bottom line though, it is not enough to support an erroding property tax base. GCPS should only be educating children whose parents live in Gwinnett. Keep reporting them, the entitlement and the thefy have got to stop. The quality of education that Gwinnett residents deserve will go continue to go down if we don't stop this abuse!

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 10 months ago

That you for your frank reply. I know that reporting a so-called star athlete will fall on death ears, but I encourage taxpayers and homeowners to report the abuse regardless. We have got to start holding all government entities accountable for the way our tax dollars are spent and misused. Bottom line though - if you cannot prove residency in Gwinnett, your kids are not entitled to an education with my tax dollars at any GCPS facility - period!

I think we the people are very tired of watching of tax dollars wasted - I guess that is why I get really annoyed at how ineffective I know that these so-called Occupy groups will be, yet our tax $ are spent on policing them and cleaning up after them.

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ssilover1 2 years, 10 months ago

GwinnettTeacher, I don't believe you are one.

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GwinnettTeacher 2 years, 10 months ago

Is that so? Why because I speak the ugly truth about the school system that everyone seems to ignore... I can get even more in depth about specifics in the school I work in alone. ssilover1, you must be one of those crazy fans of GCPS that believes everything is great. GO over to the ISC building where they have a tremendous amound of administrators who do nothing all day long. GCPS must be the only district in America where there are just as many administrators as there are teachers.

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Mack711 2 years, 10 months ago

First thank you for what you do as a teacher. Second keep up the fight to keep the illegals and star athelets from attending class illegal and saving our tax $$$$. Good Luck

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HonestIngine 2 years, 10 months ago

This will solve the problem, do not educate any children unless their parents are citizens of the United States.Period. end of discussion. This will correct any overcrowding and need to build more schools.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 10 months ago

Too late for that one as the two most-populated states in the union, California (37.2 million people) and Texas (25.1 million people) have been overrun and are now almost completely dominated by illegals.

Those two border states are so completely dominated by illegals that they have become conduits for spreading the illegal immigration problem throughout the rest of the country, including to here in Georgia.

If you think that Gwinnett is bad, then a city like Houston is much worse as it is a city whose public institutions, including the education and, especially the health-care system, are on the verge of collapse due to massive illegal immigration.

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GwinnettTeacher2 2 years, 10 months ago

ssilover1, You don't get out much do you? You don't suppose there are teachers in our schools that see disparity? Please come out of your rock today, and consider driving the grounds of our schools. Venture at least 5 miles in any direction from your apparent Utopia. My school doesn't have grass on it's playground. I am, therefore, distressed to read on a SPLOST report that GCPS spent $600,000 on anything, much less a concession stand. I read very well, ssilover1, and I possess an advanced level degree. Does that qualify me to speak to you, in our schools, for our children? What level of education is necessary in your oh so humble opinion; because the parents of over half of my students would not possess such a document, yet I find their care, concern, desire, interest, insight and understanding of and for their children a key component to my success with their child. One more little thing, ssislover1, I can count. $400 million will now go to technology for 165,000 (yes, I did higher math here and rounded up) students. I don't work in corporate America, but I have. I assure you. Corporate America could outfit their complete staffs of say 2 million employees in less than 5 years and certainly with less cost than $400 million dollars. I'll wait while you process that. You understand that's more than a million dollars a person, right? Here's a thought. Let's give each principal a million dollars, and let them see how quickly they can get their students hooked up. We have some really good people in this county, ssilover1, unfortunately, they don't reside in Mecca - that the ISC building. Be sure and wave when you go buy today, ssilover1, I'm sure you'll be the person with your mouth open.

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LoganvilleResident 2 years, 10 months ago

I know this is a late reply but I felt compelled to respond. If you are teaching my students, I'm truly scared.

You claim that Gwinnett spending $400 million on 165,000 students amounts to $1 million per person. Let me walk you through this. $400 million is $400,000,000. If you take $400,000,000 and divde it by 165,000 to reach a "per person" number, the answer is $2424.24. This is a far cry from $1,000,000 which would be $1 million dollars.

Since this is over a five year period, this means Gwinnett will spend an extra $484 per student in technology improvements over the next five years.

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JV 2 years, 10 months ago

ssilover1, Keep drinking the kool-aid friend. Keep drinking.

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JW 2 years, 10 months ago

You nailed it. If it were not for the illegals we would not have to build schools each year. If you want fairness.....if you can't show a receipt for property taxes......you should pay a cost per student.

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GwinnettTeacher 2 years, 10 months ago

There are actually only a handful of schools that have the majority of illegals in this district. The fact is they are not the problem either. The big wigs over at ISC have no clue what is actually going on in the schools today. Why is it that WILBANKS has tolda the schools and teachers that we have to do more with less, while he contiunes to get more money?

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes, the illegals are very concentrated in a few areas. However, many did not leave as anticipated in spite of the GA immigration law. Bottom line, anyone getting a free education off my tax dollars is basically stealing from me. Not to mention that these people often get many other entitlements as well. I know that teachers hands are tied and they have no choice but to edcate them. But it IS a problem and it must be stopped. Our society is being destroyed and dismantled at the disease that that is entitlement!

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Linda 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree, I have paid school taxes for forty years. If you don't pay property taxes, then you must pay for education. simple. If the citizens of Gwnnett don't like the out come of the ESPLOST IV they have only themselves to blame because 86% did not get out and VOTE. I have no use for those who don't vote.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 10 months ago

That 86%of registered voters did not show up at the polls on Tuesday is not all that surprising considering that most of the population of the county hails from another part of the country or the world.

In a highly-transient community of over 800,000 (likely one of the MOST transient communities in the entire Western world with so many people constantly moving in) where people are always moving-in, moving-out or moving around, many of those eligible to vote may not have even the slightest grasp of the issues and may not even aware that an election occurred outside of the two-to-four year cycle of major elections for statewide and federal officials.

On the good side, at least the 14% voter turnout is much improved over the five and six percent of some recent past local elections.

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Sthrnldy 2 years, 10 months ago

On a final note, I have and will continue to volunteer and support the schools in my community. I support the teachers at GCPS 110% and my experience with most is that they are excellent teachers.

The problem is at the the top and it trickles down - the mismanagement and bloated administration at the central office, the brainwashing and polical correctness that is handed down, and the intimidation to shut up and be quiet.

People that volunteer need to speak up at any thing that bothers them. Go to the cnetral office even if anonymously. It will get to the point they cannot ignore the masses of parents and students that they are suppose to be serving.

I voted NO because I wanted to send a message. That vote doesn't mean I don't support GCPS. Just to let Wilbanks and the powers that be that we are watching them. The YES vote won regardless.

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jwages64 2 years, 10 months ago

I can't believe that the citizens of Gwinnett have supported yet another tax instead of holding the school board accountable to live within their means. Get rid of so called educators that are not capable and stop teaching all the touchy feely classes and stick with the basics that people need in the real business world. We should all insist on credibility within the system - as in the recent allegations of land deals for school property. When the county and school system clean up their act then I will vote for an increase. I am really disappointed that the esplost passed. Same folks voted that have not acquired an adequate education from county schools.

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 10 months ago

"Same folks voted that have not acquired an adequate education from county schools."

That's the thing, because of the massive population growth of Gwinnett over the last three decades and the highly-transient nature of the community, even amongst those legally qualified and eligible to vote, one could say that it is very much likely that most of those voting were not educated in Gwinnett schools, per se.

Most of the people who voted for the E-SPLOST likely have moved in from other parts of the country where both high sales and property taxes not only for schools, but also across-the-board, are not all that uncommon.

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