Education is access; it is mankind’s predominant link throughout history, an investment that can never be lost due to a challenging economy and one of the single greatest human determinants to the future. And there is no greater success story, currently, in education than what we have in Gwinnett County.
As the largest school system in the state and the 2010 Best Urban District in the nation with receipt of the coveted Broad Prize award, Gwinnett County's educational system -- its access to a vibrant and strong tomorrow -- is second to none.
On Nov. 8, registered voters will have the power to support and continue this award-winning and academically astute legacy. The Gwinnett County Board of Education and the Buford City Board of Education have authorized a referendum to renew the highly successful education special purpose local option sales tax (E-SPLOST). In order to continue this standard of national excellence and furthermore make certain our students' future in workforce excellence, Gwinnettians must vote YES and with a unified voice demonstrate that "Gwinnett Kids Count."
The best part about this vote is that it is one that residents of Gwinnett can simply decide to continue with no increase in what you are already paying. A SPLOST, by definition, is a one penny sales tax -- in this case, one residents and visitors, alike, are already paying in their daily retail purchases -- to fund capital improvement projects in Gwinnett's public schools. Gwinnett County voters first approved a SPLOST for education in 1997 and then approved a continuation of the 1cent sales tax for education in 2001 and 2006. Previous SPLOST funds have been used to construct 46 new schools, helping the school system to keep pace with enrollment growth.
When passed this November, the existing one-penny tax will continue for another five-year period and help fuel the following proposed projects:
Construct five new schools (a relief high school for the Berkmar/Central clusters, a middle school in the Central Gwinnett cluster, a middle school in the Peachtree Ridge cluster, an elementary school in the new Berkmar/Central relief cluster, and an elementary school in the Meadowcreek cluster);
Add classrooms to eight existing schools (North Gwinnett HS, Peachtree Ridge HS, Meadowcreek HS, Twin Rivers MS, North Gwinnett MS, Alcova ES, Rockbridge ES, and Camp Creek ES);
Renovate one existing facility, Monarch School, to house a second middle school in the Duluth cluster;
Air-condition all middle and high school gyms, as well as all elementary activity buildings;
Air-condition all school kitchens that currently do not have it;
Provide significant technology improvements in every cluster to support teaching and learning;
Catch up on preventive maintenance of existing facilities; and
sPurchase school buses.
The E-SPLOST is critical to continue the momentum of driving a first-class education system, and educating tomorrow's workforce, today. I encourage you do your part on Nov. 8, and support Gwinnett's continued education excellence. Show that Gwinnett Kids Count and vote yes for Gwinnett's continued E-SPLOST.
Jim Maran is president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.