Duluth and other Gwinnett County voters will decide Tuesday whether to extend a one-cent tax for five years to fund future educational improvements in Gwinnett County Public Schools. ESPLOST IV would address classroom and technology needs through 2017.
ESPLOST III, the current SPLOST for schools, will expire June 30, 2012. Since 1997 GCPS has benefitted from a special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) for education that has provided students with thousands of needed classrooms in 46 new schools and dozens of school additions, as well as technology improvements essential to teaching and learning, according to information provided by the school system. The Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to place the sales tax extension on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Proposed improvements under ESPLOST IV include renovations to the Monarch School returning it to use as a middle school with 42 classrooms in 2016. This would be a second middle school in the Duluth Cluster and would offer an expanded STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) program or focus, according to Sloan Roach, GCPS executive director of communication and media relations. It would have its own attendance area like other Gwinnett middle schools, she said.
"This school will not necessarily be a charter school. The school district has not yet determined what type of school -- traditional, charter, magnet,theme, or other -- this school will be. That decision will be made based on which school structure offers the best options for students,'" Roach said.
Since the change will not occur until 2016, the school district is working on plans to accommodate the special education students served by the Monarch School, she said.
Additionally, ESPLOST !V would fund technology improvements systemwide to support teaching and learning and systemwide facility modifications, renovations, modernizations, energy conservation upgrades, and infrastructure improvements through 2017.
All Duluth schools are slated to receive schoolwide technology upgrades that may include teacher laptops, student research stations, network printers, projectors, screens, wireless notebook carts, computer labs, media center and school video broadcast equipment, network infrastructure improvements, and increased wireless access.
Proposed facility improvements at Duluth Cluster schools to be funded by ESPLOST IV include:
- Duluth HS -- Gym AC; HVAC improvements; energy efficiency upgrades
- Duluth MS --Gym AC; energy efficiency upgrades Berkeley Lake ES --Gym AC; kitchen AC; energy efficiency upgrades
- Chattahoochee ES –- Gym AC; re-roofing; energy efficiency upgrades
- Chesney ES -- Gym AC; energy efficiency upgrades
- B.B. Harris ES -- Gym AC; kitchen AC; upgrade intercom; replace fire alarm; energy efficiency upgrades
- Monarch School -- Convert to new Duluth Cluster middle school
Other projects include a new middle school containing 40 classrooms in the Peachtree Ridge Cluster in 2014 and an addition to Peachtree Ridge High School containing 16 classrooms in 2017.
See the pdf accompanying this article for a list of projects proposed to be funded through ESPLOST IV.
The GCPS website lists these key facts regarding ESPLOST IV:
- Anticipated revenue of $876 million (By law, Buford will get $17.1 million based on their student enrollment for its city school system, leaving GCPS with $858.9 million.)
- Projects include five new schools, one bus facility, and nine additions and renovations.
- Also included is air conditioning for all middle and high school gyms and all elementary activity buildings, along with all kitchens that currently do not have air conditioning.
- Significant technology upgrades including retrofits for all schools and infrastructure support and digital content to expand the walls of the classroom and make learning more engaging and relevant to today's world.
- Facility improvements to address preventive maintenance that has been postponed due to budget cuts (roofing, painting, carpeting, etc.)
ESPLOST III provided 16 new schools, three replacement schools, and additions to two schools. Three new clusters were established: Lanier, Mountain View and Archer.
Duluth voters will vote in their regular Gwinnett County precincts on ESPLOST IV. Locate your precinct and polling location by visiting the Georgia Secretary of State's Poll Locator. There will also be a municipal election for mayor and two posts on the Duluth City Council with voting at Duluth City Hall. Photo identification is required to vote in both elections. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.