ESPLOST helps metro Atlanta schools more than others, study finds


The special purpose local option sales tax for education (ESPLOST) has paid for school capital projects across the state, but metro Atlanta schools benefit more than rural Georgia districts, a new study shows.

Since 1996, school districts have been able to ask voters to approve a 1 cent sales tax to fund costly projects, like constructing new schools and purchasing instructional technology. In every Georgia county but one, voters have approved at least one ESPLOST, and most counties have renewed the tax every five years.

Georgia State University researchers Ross Rubenstein and Nicholas Warner published a study this month showing districts around Atlanta, including Cobb and Fulton, benefit disproportionately from the tax.

“We find large disparities in sales tax bases across the state...particularly in rural parts of the state,” the study said.

Because ESPLOST taxes purchases, districts with many retailers and shopping centers benefit most. Some counties are “exporting” their taxes, the study says, because their citizens drive to other counties to do their shopping.

In Cobb County, ESPLOST revenue has paid for 28 new schools and more than 2,700 new classrooms, as well as improvements including fencing, video surveillance cameras and instructional software.The county projects it will collect almost $800 million over the next five years if voters renew ESPLOST in March.

The study recommends that the Georgia legislature explore tax sharing plans “to help break the link between the quality of a district’s school facilities and the happenstance of retail locations.”

The researchers also noted that ESPLOST funding has benefited Georgia counties by providing an alternative to debt. Before ESPLOST, districts typically borrowed money to fund capital projects, but now districts can fund them without paying interest. 

 

School District 2015 ESPLOST Revenue
Atlanta Public Schools $92.130,057
Bremen City $1,828,348
Buford City $3,787,346
Calhoun City $2,873,574
Carrollton City $3,280,573
Cartersville City $4,446,779
Chickamauga City $678,689
Commerce City $1,241,374
Dalton City $5,621,992
Decatur City $3,520,869
Dublin City $2,437,254
Gainesville City $5,825,814
Jefferson City $2,395,760
Marietta City $9.872.687
Pelham City $795,095
Rome City $5,325,610
Social Circle City $1,111,397
Thomasville City $2.584,494
Trion City $853,069
Valdosta City $9,020,483
Vidalia City $2,299,812


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Opinion: The bigger-is-better promise of college consolidation isn’t true for dual enrollment
Opinion: The bigger-is-better promise of college consolidation isn’t true for dual enrollment

Rick Diguette is a frequent Get School contributor on higher ed issues. He is a local writer who retired from college teaching earlier this year. In this piece, Diguette discusses how the absorption of Georgia Perimeter College into Georgia State University has rendered the Move on When Ready program, which he worked with...
Investigators, school district mum on Lithia Springs
Investigators, school district mum on Lithia Springs

The moments immediately after a Douglas County school shooting sped by quickly. Law enforcement rushed to the scene early Thursday and within hours provided the public with a rough sketch explaining why Lithia Springs High School had closed so suddenly. A veteran teacher was wounded after shooting himself with a handgun in his classroom office around...
Lawsuit alleges DeKalb Schools teacher body-slammed, injured student
Lawsuit alleges DeKalb Schools teacher body-slammed, injured student

A lawsuit filed against the DeKalb County School District alleges a teacher at Clarkston High School body-slammed and dragged a student in May, and that the student lost consciousness and suffered a fractured jaw.  The civil suit, filed by Noe Ka Mui on behalf of his teenage son, seeks damages related to the May 5, 2017, incident. ...
Are teachers discussing Charlottesville, Confederate monuments in class? Should they be?
Are teachers discussing Charlottesville, Confederate monuments in class? Should they be?

I’ve been talking to high school students about the violence and turmoil in Charlottesville and its aftermath, including the rising call in Georgia to take down monuments that celebrate the Confederacy and its leaders. For the most part, the teens said these issues aren’t coming up in their classes. The kids weren’t sure...
Georgia valedictorians and salutatorians will now get automatic acceptance to Georgia Tech
Georgia valedictorians and salutatorians will now get automatic acceptance to Georgia Tech

From Georgia Tech this morning: The Georgia Institute of Technology will offer automatic acceptance to all Georgia high school valedictorians and salutatorians under a new program that goes into effect with this year’s graduating class. President G.P. “Bud” Peterson will unveil the Georgia Tech Scholars Program Thursday...
More Stories