You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

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

Kennesaw State’s African studies major in danger of being cut
Kennesaw State’s African studies major in danger of being cut

Kennesaw State University’s African and African Diaspora Studies degree program could be cut due to lack of graduates, the school confirmed Friday. African studies faculty met Thursday with university officials to discuss the program’s dire situation. In a statement, KSU said all at the meeting agreed to increase efforts to recruit...
Kennesaw State hiring more faculty to meet increasing enrollment
Kennesaw State hiring more faculty to meet increasing enrollment

Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens said Friday his deans are trying to hire more faculty members as the school grapples with its increasing enrollment. The university has hired additional faculty members this school year, he said, in areas such as engineering. Olens said he’s directed his team to hire at least 25 professors...
South Fulton crash victim’s mom: ‘The tears are the ambitions that he had’
South Fulton crash victim’s mom: ‘The tears are the ambitions that he had’

Photos splayed across the dining room table at Elke Velez’s South Fulton County home showed her youngest son, Isaiah Gregory, at various stages of his young life. In many, he wore a football uniform. “Anybody who knows Isaiah knows he loved baseball and basketball,” Velez said, smiling. “He wanted to be in the NFL, wanted...
Deal signs law for charter schools
Deal signs law for charter schools

Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation Thursday that helps charter schools by making it easier for them to acquire unused school buildings and improving their access to funding.  House Bill 430 mandates hearings for charter schools that are trying to obtain unused school buildings and ensures they get a proportional share of certain federal...
Deal signs school turnaround legislation, calls it a ‘dramatic step’
Deal signs school turnaround legislation, calls it a ‘dramatic step’

With the stroke of a pen Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal initiated an experiment that could yield innovative strategies for improving Georgia’s lowest-performing schools or saddle him and future governors with an intractable problem. House Bill 338 was not Deal’s first choice of tools to fix schools. Last year, voters rejected a referendum on...
More Stories