E-SPLOST Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is a SPLOST or E-SPLOST?
A Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is a one-penny tax that may be used by Georgia school systems for capital improvements and/or long-term debt reduction from previous bonds. A SPLOST used by a local school district is referred to as an E-SPLOST or “Educational” SPLOST. School systems must ask permission from the voters in their district, through a referendum, in order to implement an E-SPLOST. By law, an E-SPLOST expires after five years unless citizens vote to renew it.
2. How does E-SPLOST impact my taxes? When is the referendum for renewal?
E-SPLOST does not impact property taxes or business/commercial taxes. An E-SPLOST simply adds a penny to the existing sales tax. This way, the tax burden is spread among tourists, visitors, and anyone who makes a purchase within the jurisdiction of the school district. The vote to renew the E-SPLOST is Tuesday, Nov 2, 2021.
3. What is the plan? How will my money be spent?
If reapproved by voters, the E-SPLOST would provide state-of-the-art learning facilities for our students, address longstanding capacity challenges, improve the district’s IT infrastructure, and make investments in Atlanta Public Schools’ security and transportation systems.
4. Who compiles the list of E-SPLOST projects? What criteria are used to determine which projects make the list?
A district-wide needs assessment is conducted by the APS Operations Division, which includes the Construction and Facilities departments. The assessments are performed using national standards set by the Building Owners Management Association. The District’s Operations Division, in consultation with the superintendent and other central-office instructional leaders, then prioritizes the projects on the list.
5. Is this a new tax? Why is APS seeking an E-SPLOST now?
No, this tax is not new. The current E-SPLOST was approved in 2016 and will expire on June 30, 2022. APS continues to implement aggressive school turnaround strategies to increase student performance. A keystone to supporting those efforts is to ensure that every student has access to a conducive, comfortable, safe, and secure learning environment. In addition, SPLOST will enable the district to leverage our past SPLOST investments and make improvements as necessary to maximize the life of the facilities. Also, some learning facilities and systems – such as the district’s bus fleet – are in need of an upgrade.
6. How did Atlanta Public Schools use the current E-SPLOST?
The expiring E-SPLOST is projected to raise approximately $490 million for APS, resulting in the completion of major renovation projects in 15 schools and sites, significant HVAC system upgrades in 11 facilities. The district has also been able to complete major technology initiatives funded through SPLOSY V focused primarily on providing devices and technology directly to students and classrooms. In addition to providing 9,000 iPads to first and second-grade students, the SPLOST funds were used to offer Windows-based devices to all 9,000 middle school students (grades six, seven & eight) and Chromebooks to 4,000 high school students before the pandemic. As a result of the hardships imposed by the pandemic on student learning, the district also recently committed to providing new devices to 40,000 APS students, which will be part-funded through SPLOST. Part of the technology initiatives completed includes replacing the old Promethean boards in classrooms with new LED panels, as the technology team funded over 1,000+ panels during the current SPLOST cycle.
7. What will this cost me?
Nothing. Two points are important here: 1) Again, there currently is an E-SPLOST already in place; and 2) An E-SPLOST is a sales tax that has no impact on personal property or business/commercial taxes.
8. What if the E-SPLOST fails?
APS seeks to achieve five critical goals on behalf of students with the E-SPLOST. If the E-SPLOST is not approved, reaching those goals could become problematic. The goals are to ensure students have access to learning environments that meet their academic needs by ensuring infrastructure is aligned to new cluster signature program designs; are not in overcrowded schools by addressing capacity challenges in high-growth areas; are in facilities that are safe, comfortable, and conducive to learning by maintaining the community’s substantial investment in the district’s existing infrastructure; have access to a comprehensive, well-rounded education by investing in athletic fields and technology upgrades; and are learning in APS-leased facilities – including charter schools – have access to equitable learning environments by investing in infrastructure improvements for those facilities.
9. Can E-SPLOST funds be used for other purposes, such as pay increases for teachers or other school system employees?
No. E-SPLOST funds may only be used for capital improvements and/or long-term debt reduction from previous bonds.
10. If I don’t have students in public schools, how will this impact me?
The vibrancy and viability of a community are measured largely by the academic and physical condition of the schools serving its children. For homeowners, this has a direct impact on the resale value of properties within the community. Additionally, businesses are attracted to, and more likely to thrive in communities served by school districts with strong academic programs, quality systems (transportation, technology, etc.), and state-of-the-art facilities.
11. What is the breakdown of SPLOST Investments by Cluster since inception in 1997?