Area voters showed their continued support of schools on Tuesday with the passage of the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. About 54% of voters affirmed their support of using the additional one cent sales tax on local purchases to support the capital improvement and debt repayment plans laid out by the Dalton Public Schools and Whitfield County Schools.
“We are grateful to the voters of our community who said ‘Yes’ to supporting our schools,” said Dr. Jim Hawkins, superintendent of Dalton Public Schools. “The passage of the E-SPLOST will allow us to meet critical needs by expanding the facilities for Dalton Middle School and Morris Innovative High School.”
The additional one-cent tax will begin collections on January 1, 2013 and is expected to raise up to $105 million during the 5-year collection period. Dalton Public Schools will receive approximately $33-36.3 million while Whitfield County Schools will receive $68 million. This is the fourth education sales tax to be approved in Whitfield County. Across the state, 155 of the 159 counties use an E-SPLOST to fund capital improvements for schools, including all the counties surrounding Whitfield. It is estimated that up to 33 percent of the sales tax collections will come from purchases made by commuters or visitors to our community.
Dalton Middle School is already overcapacity at 105 percent. An increase of almost 150 students in the last five years has stressed the facility, and student growth is expected to continue through at least 2015.
Morris Innovative High School has relocated to the former Fort Hill School campus to allow for renovation and construction of the existing Morris School site. Morris Innovative High is expected to start the school year with more than 430 students. The school needs additional space at the Morris Street location for an age-appropriate cafeteria and gym, as well as expanded instructional space to accommodate the career pathways and growing enrollment.
“Our staff and students are grateful to be the beneficiaries of the generosity of our community,” Hawkins added. “ I am extremely pleased to see our local voters stand solidly behind education once again. As we strive each day to improve the lives of our students, it is encouraging to know that our community is behind us.”