FAQs about the E-SPLOST
Providing new schools, classrooms, and technology for learning is a major challenge for a large, dynamic district like Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS). We’ve been successful, however, thanks to a penny in sales tax the voters made available to school districts a number of years ago. The Gwinnett County Board of Education wants to keep the improvements going by continuing the “E-SPLOST” now in place, so the Board is asking voters to extend it for five more years in a referendum set for November 3. Why is the extension needed? What will it fund? What has the sales tax provided in the past? Find the answers here!
What is an E-SPLOST?
An E-SPLOST is a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) for education. It is a one-cent sales tax on all retail purchases in Gwinnett County. This means that everyone who makes a purchase in Gwinnett County, including visitors, contributes to the support of local schools. By law, an E-SPLOST can be used only for certain capital projects, like buildings, furnishings, buses, and computers. It cannot be used for the day-to-day operational expenses of a school system. Both GCPS and Buford City Schools benefit from E-SPLOST funding.
Is the proposed E-SPLOST a new tax? How long would it be in effect?
Gwinnett’s E-SPLOST is not a new or additional tax but a continuation of the one-cent tax already being collected on sales. The current education sales tax sunsets on June 30, 2022. If voters approve the extension, the penny would be collected for another five-year period, beginning July 1, 2022.
Why is the district renewing the E-SPLOST now?
Putting these types of measures on the ballot in a general election allows the maximum number of voters to have a say in the outcome. By holding the referendum this November, we continue our practice of asking voters to renew the E-SPLOST well ahead of the date when it is set to expire. Passage of the sales tax extension this fall allows for better planning as we will know in advance that the major source of capital improvement funding will continue to be available to meet ongoing needs in the school district.
What would this E-SPLOST renewal fund, if approved?
This E-SPLOST funds several facility improvements, with a heavier emphasis on providing technology and technological resources for students and staff than previous programs. The GCPS portion of the E-SPLOST funds will be used to fund capital projects, including technology improvements systemwide; digital instructional resources to support virtual learning; upgrades to athletic facilities; systemwide facility improvements (roofing, HVAC, building improvements, etc.); purchase of school buses; and purchase of instructional materials, software, and textbooks. Construction projects include a new middle school for the Archer Cluster, plus additions/renovations at Archer HS; Central Gwinnett HS; Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology; Harbins ES; North Gwinnett HS; Shiloh MS; and Trickum MS.
How much will the proposed E-SPLOST raise for the school district?
It is estimated that the extended E-SPLOST would bring in tax collections of $984,565,000 over the five-year period. That amount would be split, with approximately $957,096,000 going to Gwinnett County Public Schools and $27,469,000 to Buford City Schools.
The ballot question on the E-SPLOST mentions $300,000,000 in general obligation (GO) bonds that will be approved as well. Why are bonds needed?
This will be the fourth E-SPLOST to include approval of short-term general obligation bonds as part of the ballot question. These bonds will provide the district with funding prior to the collection of the sales tax, allowing us to get a jump-start on building needed classrooms and providing needed technology. The GO bonds will be paid for with sales tax proceeds as that revenue is collected.
What happens if voters do not approve continuation of the E-SPLOST?
The E-SPLOST is the primary source of funding for building, maintaining, and equipping quality school facilities for students. Without this source of funds, the school district would be limited in its ability to provide new classrooms and maintain existing school facilities. The E-SPLOST also is a substantial funding source for ensuring that technology for students and teachers is updated. Educational technology continues to change and is playing a bigger role as GCPS blends digital learning into its instructional model. The E-SPLOST is key to the ongoing effort to meet the teaching and learning needs of our students and teachers and to improve communication with parents.
Are there two sales tax measures on the ballot?
Yes. Gwinnett voters will mark ballots about the E-SPLOST and the Gwinnett Transit Referendum. Voters may be more familiar with the E-SPLOST as it is not a new tax and has funded education projects for a number of years. The one-cent transit sales tax, however, is new. If approved, the transit sales tax, which would be managed by Gwinnett County Government (not the School Board), would run for 30 years and fund 82 transit projects.