In the general election of 1996, a constitutional amendment was approved by the voters of Georgia that allowed local boards of education the option of calling for a referendum to ask their voters to approve a SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) for educational purposes.
This constitutional amendment has made a tremendous impact for over 96 percent of school systems throughout Georgia.
The Bryan County School System is no exception. On two separate occasions, the Bryan County voters have overwhelmingly supported an ESPLOST for facility and technology improvements for Bryan County Schools.
The current ESPLOST has generated over $15.3 million of sales tax proceeds from both county residents and visitors who are either traveling through our county or who travel to our county for work.
Before the end of the current ESPLOST, the total amount of sales tax proceeds should reach approximately $18 million. Every facility has benefited from ESPLOST revenues.
The revenue generated from the second ESPLOST has funded classroom additions at Richmond Hill Primary School, Carver Elementary School, Bryan County Middle School, Richmond Hill Middle School, Bryan County High School, and Richmond Hill High School. ESPLOST has funded athletic facilities including running tracks, tennis courts, and bleachers at both high schools, and baseball lights at BCHS. ESPLOST has funded parking and paving projects at numerous schools in addition to HVAC replacements.
Over $1.2 million of ESPLOST funds have been dedicated to technology upgrades and improvements at schools in Bryan County. Along with some state capital outlay funds, ESPLOST II is the funding source for the replacement school for Richmond Hill Elementary and will contribute to the funding source for the replacement middle school in Richmond Hill.
The list of projects goes on and on. These facility and technology projects could never have materialized without ESPLOST funds and the support of the taxpayers in Bryan County. The constitutional amendment allowing for an educational sales tax in Georgia, and in particular, Bryan County, was without a doubt one of the most significant things to happen in education.
Because of the availability of ESPLOST funds, the local Board of Education has been able to maintain programs and to add programs requested by parents and staff when other systems have cut services as a result of austerity reductions (funds in the amount of $4.8 million earned by Bryan County but withheld by the State) imposed on Bryan County Schools.
By Bryan County Schools Chief Financial
Officer Melanie James