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

Participants fewer, passion same in new metro Atlanta student protests
Participants fewer, passion same in new metro Atlanta student protests

A handful of schools across metro Atlanta participated in National Walkout events Friday, with activities and messages that varied in shape, scale and focus, on topics from gun control to police brutality. The events were held Friday to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, when two students opened fire inside their Littleton...
State report finds accounting errors by Georgia Piedmont Technical College staff
State report finds accounting errors by Georgia Piedmont Technical College staff

Georgia Piedmont Technical College officials have made several errors in processing student aid, according to a state report released Friday. The report by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts comes as federal education officials and the Technical College System of Georgia conduct a wide-ranging review of the metro Atlanta college’s...
DeKalb Schools: Sickout’s second day sees more bus drivers delivering students
DeKalb Schools: Sickout’s second day sees more bus drivers delivering students

A sickout staged by DeKalb County School District bus drivers resulted in transportation delays for the second day Friday. About 224 bus drivers were absent Friday, compared to 383 who were absent Thursday, according to an absentee report received by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from the school system. Andre Riley, a schools spokesman, said there...
APS plans budget, pay hikes amid revenue questions
APS plans budget, pay hikes amid revenue questions

Atlanta Public Schools expects Fulton County residential property values to increase after being frozen at 2016 levels. But school officials are facing major revenue unknowns while creating the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 .  The board is scheduled to tentatively adopt the budget May 7 and consider final approval June 4...
DeKalb school bus drivers stage sickout
DeKalb school bus drivers stage sickout

DeKalb County School District Superintendent Steve Green had a stern message for the 400 or so bus drivers who called in sick Thursday: There will be consequences. They found out quickly how severe, with at least a half dozen drivers confirming late Thursday they had been fired for calling out of work, and apparently being vocal about drivers&rsquo...
More Stories