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Superintendent touts one-cent sales tax

Staff Photo: Frank Reddy J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent with Gwinnett County Public Schools, addresses members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Wednesday during his annual state of the school system address.

Staff Photo: Frank Reddy J. Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent with Gwinnett County Public Schools, addresses members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Wednesday during his annual state of the school system address.

DULUTH -- Members of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce listened Wednesday as Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks shared his vision of the future for Gwinnett County Public Schools.

A majority of his speech centered around the proposed extension of the one-cent sales tax for education, which goes before Gwinnett County voters Nov. 8.

He said the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, extension would allow the system to build new schools, add on to some existing schools and improve technology.

A new iteration of SPLOST could produce a bulk of funding for the digital initiative eCLASS (Content, Learning, Assessment and Support System).

Wilbanks said eCLASS is an "important tool that will help us to expand what we do in the classroom."

Initial funding for the software came from federal Race to the Top grants.

Wilbanks said despite the cost of the software and content needed for eCLASS, it would be a cost-savings measure in the long run.

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

He said the cost of textbooks is about $29 million annually.

Using eCLASS, the need for textbooks would be diminished, he said.

A member of the audience, Sarah Latchaw, asked Wilbanks if the system would provide a means for students who could not afford a digital device to access content.

He replied that the district would "make sure that those students don't suffer just because they don't have" the technology.

The program is set to start officially in August of 2012. District officials plan to use several clusters or communities to "pilot" the program.

Wilbanks touched on other subjects as well Wednesday, including the successes of the past year like the district's winning of the prestigious Broad Prize for Urban Education.

"We're very proud of what's happening in our schools," Wilbanks said. "We didn't get to be Broad prize winners by having a few good schools. We won because we have a lot of great schools in this county, and we're going to aim to continue that."

Comments

NewsReader 2 years, 6 months ago

So which clusters get the benefit of piloting this program?

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 2 years, 6 months ago

I like and admire GCPS for doing what they've done in the public education realm with increasingly limited resources in an economic environment that gets more challenging by the day.

But Superintendent Wilbanks is openly talking about pushing an extension of a one-cent sales TAX INCREASE in an depressed economic environment where voters and taxpayers very much understandably have more than enough reason to mistrust a very corrupt and underhanded local government with a history of shady land dealings.

Gwinnett voters and taxpayers are also in NO mood or financial position to pay additional TAXES, even those that they have approved before.

"He said the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, extension would allow the system to build new schools, add on to some existing schools and improve technology."

Everyone understands that even in a very depressed economic environment, the Gwinnett County Public Schools system has continued to experience heady growth in enrollment numbers, but given the EXCEPTIONALLY challenging financial circumstances that the majority of taxpayers are dealing with personally, GCPS should probably be making more of an effort to make due with the facilities and the technology that they already have just like most other school districts throughout the nation are having to do during an extended economic downturn.

Making due with what they already have would mean that GCPS is being alot more cognizant of the very difficult economic circumstances that the community it serves and the nation at large are going through instead of just asking for more and more without seeming to be aware or appearing not to about the overall situation.

Although I do give Wilbanks a lot of credit for having the nerve to come forth and ask for voters to extend the one-cent sales tax in light of the shady land dealings that GCPS was found to have possibly been involved in as well as having the guts to come forth and ask for and extension of the sales tax in a such a wretched economic environment.

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R 2 years, 6 months ago

So… we need to extend the tax to provide some, as of yet unidentified, clusters with additional moneys to complete a project (ECLASS) first begun by federal grant. Interesting concept, the WHOLE County pays, but only some get the complete benefit… We’ve heard this presentation style before somewhere – that’s RIGHT! the TSPLOST.

So now we have our very own “Mini Me ESPLOST”. Give a buck, take 15 cents back - there absolutely won’t be any discrimination suits filed over this process when the identities of the pilot clusters are made known. The Great Karnack sees a drive at the state capital in 2012 to increase the top property tax millage rate available to schools -coming soon to a tax bill near you - whether this ESPLOST comes through or not.

PS: Please give the BROAD Prize a rest – we’ve heard it in quantity more times recently than the famous “Pass this Bill!” GCPS may be BROAD, but our wallets out here, not so much, because WE can’t just tax the boss more and foreclose on the business if he doesn’t pay it. That would also appear to be the case for all the “furoughees” out here too.
(For the purists out there; while it is true you can’t foreclose on a sales tax unless you’re going after a business - this is in reality but one leg of a VERY big centipede-like entity)

Gee, maybe the school system needs to REDUCE its available tax fund revenues with more TADs, I’m sure the losses will be made up in volume. The MORE you KNOW folks… The game’s afoot.

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OutofMoney 2 years, 6 months ago

As good as this school system is. There is more wasted money that could be found without the penny. More schools do not need to be built. The student growth has almost stop. I would say look at the balance of where the children come from and make the adjustment.

Look at each department and cut cost there. I am not saying in the classrooms. As I stated before the waste of money can be found with ease. Wilbanks does not want to do that. I would say to him and the board, that is the way you EARN your money in these hard times. Reduce in the ISC building first. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians. This is the only school system in the nation that has Chiefs because you have Chiefs.

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JV 2 years, 6 months ago

Concur totally with previous commenters. For many in Gwinnett, SPLOST has become a dirty word thanks to the follies of our county commissioners over the years including waste, fraud and abuse. Recently we were told that some parks will need to be closed due to lack of maintenance funds. SPLOTS have been used for years to build stuff that Gwinnett County can’t afford to keep up and maintain. Included are all the Libraries some of which have been forced to close or cut operations.

In upcoming ballots, Gwinnett will have on the ballot another “E” SPLOST for education and a “T” SPLOST for transportation. A SPLOST here, a SPLOST there…a SPLOST everywhere. Trust in government use of SPLOST is just not there. Vote no to any SPLOST!

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GCPS 2 years, 6 months ago

The five clusters piloting eCLASS in August of 2012 will be Archer, Berkmar, Duluth, North Gwinnett, and Shiloh. All schools in these clusters will participate in the pilot. The pilot will phase in other clusters over time.

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Mack711 2 years, 6 months ago

We were told that if the lottery was approved that all the funds would go to education and that school taxes would go down. Donot know about but my taxes have gone up since the lottery has come in. This penny here, this penny there and everywhere adds up. With the current mess that we have in Gwinnett, with all the problems with government and with the corruption that has been experienced, how can we vote for any SPLOT. As stated by previous commenters when is enough, enough. With the economy the way it is today we need to cut some high dollar pay checks for the top executives in this system. Wish I could go to my emplyer and say I need a SPLOT to make ends meet after I overspent my normal budget. My employer would say 'NO, live within your current pay or find another job!!"

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NewsReader 2 years, 6 months ago

OK, that leaves me out, so I vote "NO"! If I’m not on the pilot list, I’ve got absolutely no interest in it. And spare me the “you’ll get it in due time” argument. Time isn’t something my children have anymore.

'R', you crack me up...love the cynical writing style.

  • Misappropriation of taxpayer funds overpaying for land purchase/lease deals.
  • Voters approving TAD because the wording on the referendum was too misleading (Yeah, even stupid people get to vote without the first idea what they are voting for).
  • Voters approving BOND referendum to shore up SPLOST III shortfalls because of TAD amongst other things.
  • ISC…need I say anything else?

I can go on and on and on, but what’s the point?

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BuzzG 2 years, 6 months ago

It's never enough. They always want more. There is enough waste in Gwinnett County government to fund several of these programs. But they don't want to cut anywhere. They want the right to reach into our pockets one more time.

Why don;t they sell the sports stadium that we didn't vote on? It would provide lots of funds. Why don't they sell some of the over-priced land they bought in their corrupt operations? That would fund lots of education stuff. But no. They want more. They don't want to do without. They want us to do without.

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chasmcjr 2 years, 5 months ago

Buzz, you are obviously confused btween the Gwinnett Board of Commisioners and the Gwinnett Board of Education. Get a clue before you rant and rave about something you obviously know nothing about.

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SuxBeanU 2 years, 6 months ago

Pass the tax! Pass the tax! Pass the tax! We need to get to Wilbanks goal of one school per pupil.

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NewsReader 2 years, 6 months ago

Now that's funny SuxBeanU! LOL!

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OutofMoney 2 years, 6 months ago

Not only one pupil per school, but one free standing office per staff. Have you ever seen so many places marked Gwinnett County Schools. Forget the schools, the school system owns more property than even Burger King does in the county. Too many layers starting at the top. I would like to know really how many there are before you drill down to the real workers in Gwinnett, the teachers, maintenance workers, etc...

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CD 2 years, 6 months ago

Alvin should hire Bannister and Kenerly as PR agents. Hey, what's another 1 percent amoung friends, right?

The Gwinnett taxpayer is in for it. 1% TSplost, 1% Schools, and this while we wait on the proposed property tax increase as a result of the court decision regarding the service delivery dispute. There WILL be a proerty tax increase. When will enough be enough?

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jack 2 years, 6 months ago

I am certain Mr. Wilbanks is laser-focused on nothing other than the best interests of our children.

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R 2 years, 6 months ago

It's our money - we'll take it when WE need it...

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ReevesHolt 2 years, 6 months ago

The stats from GCPS speak for themselves…

School – SAT

  • Brookwood – 1610 Parkview – 1596 North Gwinnett – 1557 Collins Hill – 1547 Duluth – 1544 Peachtree Ridge – 1538 Mill Creek – 1535 Dacula – 1525 Norcross – 1519 Grayson – 1483 Mountain View – 1481 Archer – 1414 Central Gwinnett – 1412 Lanier – 1405 Shiloh – 1382 Berkmar – 1371 South Gwinnett – 1336 Meadowcreek – 1333

School – Free/Reduced Lunch

  • Brookwood – 19% Mill Creek – 22% North Gwinnett – 23% Peachtree Ridge – 26% Grayson – 29% Collins Hill – 30% Parkview – 31% Mountain View – 36% Dacula – 37% Archer – 39% Duluth – 47% Shiloh – 56% South Gwinnett – 57% Norcross – 58% Central Gwinnett – 67% Berkmar – 77% Meadowcreek – 87%
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fred68 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm not sure what these stats have to do with SPLOST. The link between high poverty rates and lower SAT scores is a nationwide problem, not just a GCPS issue. Plus, you'll notice some schools buck the trend - take a look at Parkview and Duluth. Duluth posted higher SAT scores than Peachtree Ridge despite having almost double the amount of free/reduced lunch students.

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ssilover1 2 years, 6 months ago

OK, folks who write here, except perhaps Jack, you are not looking very closely at historical facts, And what is this attitude that if your cluster does not pilot, then you don't vote for something? Good heavens! The purpose of a pilot, which is well thought out first, is to fine tune and get the final product prepared for a total roll out. I have never read so much short sightedness as I read here. IF you really keep up with facts, you note that our district still attracts 1500+ (minimally) additional students each year, Schools need additions. Trailers still sit full of students in certain clusters. No other school system has the diversity of GC nor the success rate with student achievement. So, slap the system in the face and take it for granted. See how that works for you. The system will absolutely be hand strung and really good schools will struggle even more meeting family needs and student academic needs. I am ashamed of voters who don't realize the greatest thing GC has going for it is the school system. Ask corporations why they relocate here. Ask them why they are willing to contribute to the very tax base that provides our services. Then, look in the mirror and ask yourself, why should I not be fair to the students and support SPLOST? Read the audits. And be fair. Do not reduce your decision making to uninformed negativity.

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kevin 2 years, 5 months ago

It is not very fair to ask us to pay for new technology, especially when it involves portable digital tablets. Just let the parents of these kids buy their own "technology" items and let the school approve them. This will be another sweetheart deal using our money to give contracts to connected parties. There is no transparency in any of this. Vote No. Gee, how did all the millions of kids get so educated many years ago? No a/c, walk to school, carry the poor books (we had lockers), paper and pencil. Want more than that? Buy your own stuff. You can ask others to pay for all this despite the fact we all have money issues at this time and they will not be going away soon.

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OutofMoney 2 years, 5 months ago

As my name shows we are "OUT OF MONEY". You are putting a causing the public to have to do without things they need in their life to pay for things on your "wish" list. As the previous person said. Let each parent pay for their kids computers and pads. This is a good school system, but enough is enough draining our pocketbooks. Please all vote "no"

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R 2 years, 5 months ago

"look in the mirror and ask yourself, why should I not be fair to the students and support SPLOST? Read the audits. And be fair. Do not reduce your decision making to uninformed negativity."

We CAN'T give what we don't have.
Supporters, look in the mirror and ask yourself, if a resident can't pay his/her school tax portion of the property tax bill, will YOU prevent the foreclosure? Between the school board and the county government base operations, we spend better than 2.5 BILLION a year, is it really too much to ask for a breather? Please don't reply these are different things - they're not, its all going to support education.

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