Decatur School Board discusses ESPLOST funding, projects(l-r) City Schools of Decatur School Board members James Herndon, Dr. Carmen Sulton, Jana Johnson-Davis, Tasha White and Hans Utz. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Decatur, GA — The City Schools of Decatur School Board, at its Jan. 24 work session, discussed the education special purpose local option sales tax funding and the projects it will fund.
“The special purpose local option sales tax, commonly referred to as SPLOST, is a 1% sales and use tax for educational purposes imposed on all sales and use in DeKalb County for a period of five years…,” Chief Financial Officer Lonita Broome said.
The total ESPLOST V budget was about $30 million. SPLOST V was issued in 2017, and it expired in June 2022. The largest expenditure of SPLOST V was acquisition of facilities. The bus depot location on Kentucky Street in Scottdale was one of the major acquisitions of SPLOST V. The second-largest expenditure was classroom technology, followed by construction, Broome said.
Projects funded by SPLOST V included installation of LED lights in classrooms and hallways, the expansion of solar arrays at Talley Street Upper Elementary and Beacon Hill Middle School, the replacement and upgrade of kitchen equipment and playground additions and upgrades.
ESPLOST VI was approved by voters in November 2021.
CSD anticipates receiving $8 million from ESPLOST VI this fiscal year, which is the first year of the ESPLOST program. About $2.7 million will carry over from the previous ESPLOST program. In total, CSD anticipates receiving $40 million in ESPLOST funding.
The largest estimated expenditures of ESPLOST VI are facilities acquisition and construction at $3.7 million and instruction at $2.1 million.
The only footprint the district is looking at adding is the track and field at Legacy Park, Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said.
CSD is working with the city of Decatur to build a track and field at Legacy Park. The entities entered into an intergovernmental agreement for the project in August 2022. The plans include a synthetic turf field sized for soccer, but set up for football and lacrosse. There will also be an eight-lane track with areas for long jump, high jump and pole-vaulting.
The city and CSD will each contribute about $3 million to the project.
Other ESPLOST projects include upgrading HVAC equipment and adding an 8,000 square-foot gymnasium to Decatur High School. The estimated budget for each project is $6 million.
“The current gym is located beside the performance arts center. It was built back in 2009, and it was designed for a capacity of roughly 1,650 [students, which is] not enough for today’s need. We have several issues scheduling classes in physical education, personal fitness, and team sports,” Chief Operating Officer Sergio Perez said.
Here are some more projects proposed to be funded by ESPLOST:
– About $400,000 has been allocated to renovate restrooms at the lower elementary schools.
– Playground equipment would be replaced at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, as well as Oakhurst, Westchester, Winnona Park and Glennwood elementary schools. The estimated cost is $350,000.
– Elevator renovations are also planned, and the estimated cost is $1.2 million.
– Kitchen equipment would be replaced throughout the school district at a cost of $650,000.
– The district is also planning to upgrade the intercom system. Many of the systems at several schools are past their useful life and replacement parts are unavailable and obsolete. The intercom system at College Heights ECLC, Clairemont, Oakhurst, Glennwood, Winnona Park and Westchester elementary schools, and Fifth Avenue Upper Elementary School would be replaced. The estimated cost is $480,000.
– CSD would also update the district’s security camera software program to allow for analytics and event alerts. An internal security system is also planned to be installed at Oakhurst Elementary School. The estimated cost is $450,000.
To see the presentation of ESPLOST funding, click here.
During the work session, the school board also discussed renewing the Cisco SmartNet contract to maintain support and replacement services for the district’s core networking equipment, according to the agenda packet.
“CSD’s network infrastructure is built on Cisco switches and routers,” the agenda states. “This equipment is essential to provide basic services such as Wi-Fi, wired network connections, telephony, security cameras, intercoms in most buildings, solar panel use reporting, HVAC control, credit card tuition payment, the machine that stamps outgoing mail, and a host of others.”
The SmartNet contract would run for 17 months, so the next renewal term would line up with the school year calendar like most of CSD’s other contracts, leases and licenses. The contract would be an unusually long term, rather than the normal 12-month term.
“This SmartNet contract will cost $121,867.04,” the agenda states. “This is higher than normal renewals, and it stems from the extended term. Because this coverage term covers the balance of this year and all of SY2324, the equipment covered by this contract will not need a SmartNet renewal until SY2425. The cost will be covered by the IS Department’s general fund budget.”
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