Slam dunk for SPLOST in metro Atlanta. Here comes $3.2 billion for schools.

The education SPLOST won in all metro counties where it was on the ballot today. That means a projected $3.2 billion in sales taxes going to schools over the next five years in Atlanta, Buford and Decatur, as well as Cherokee, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry counties.

In Gwinnett, SPLOST passed with 61 percent of the vote. One of the closest votes was in Cherokee, but the tax passed there 54 percent to 46 percent, still a comfortable margin of victory.

The penny sales tax for school construction drew more than 60 percent of the votes in Fulton and DeKalb. New DeKalb school chief Cheryl Atkinson isn’t waiting for the last vote to be tallied, already releasing this statement:

“We are very pleased the voters of DeKalb County are supportive of our efforts to provide the best facilities and resources for our students. We look forward over the next five years to building new schools, completing needed renovations and bringing the latest technology to DeKalb schools, upgrades that will help us achieve our primary goal of improving student success.”

According to the AJC:

Schools in Atlanta, Buford and Decatur, as well as Cherokee, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry counties will receive funding.

Throughout metro Atlanta, the SPLOST passed despite a struggling economy, heated opposition from tax weary residents and sagging public confidence in several school systems recently rocked by scandal.

Voters essentially gave DeKalb County schools, where the former superintendent is facing fraud charges related to previous SPLOST money, $475 million for school construction, including $144 million to replace seven elementary schools.

Atlanta Public Schools, which is in the midst of one of the nation’s biggest ever test cheating scandals, could raise $513 million. Two new schools in Buckhead and a new middle school in Midtown are among the projects the 1-cent tax would fund.

The mistakes of the of adults and administrators should not harm students, said Anthony “A.J.” Joiner, an entrepreneur and resident of the Edgewood Park/Little 5 Points area of Atlanta.

“Although the cheating scandal was a black eye for the Atlanta Public Schools, the kids still need the best facilities,” Joiner said. “It’s our responsibility, in my opinion, to look at the bigger picture. We have to keep the issues separate and keep what’s best for the kids in mind. That is why I voted yes.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

78 comments Add your comment

WTS

November 8th, 2011
10:25 pm

SPLOST didn’t win in Dunwoody. Wonder how that is going to work out.

Mike

November 8th, 2011
10:48 pm

What about the Atlanta schools SPLOST???

Maureen Downey

November 8th, 2011
10:55 pm

@Mike, Atlanta is part of the Fulton and DeKalb votes — the city is in both counties — so if SPLOST passes in those counties, it passes for Atlanta schools. Ditto for Decatur schools, which are part of the DeKalb SPLOST. SPLOST won in Gwinnett, which also means Buford schools.
Maureen

Anonmom

November 8th, 2011
11:00 pm

The turnout is pathetic-around 10-11%. People need to wake up and realize the vast amount of public resources (billions every year of tax money from local, state and federal taxes) going to the school systems and being used, misused and wasted by the schools. The output by the schools (e.g. the kids coming through) who aren’t getting what they need are winding up in the criminal justice system… society needs productive output… kids who grow up ready, able and willing to be productive members of society — who can and will actually contribute to society — as doctors, lawyers and politicians but also as plumbers, carpenters, engineers, software designers, clothing designers, pilots and anything we will need 10-20 years from now and for all of billions of dollars of tax money going into the system, we not outputting that many future productive citizens.

Phineas

November 8th, 2011
11:13 pm

It’s good to see that the voters still support the public schools despite some of the recent problems.

that's goofy

November 9th, 2011
1:28 am

the message to school boards is clear (from the few voters that voted): you can spend all you want and we will continue to give you money. There is no fiscal responsibility in Cherokee Co. The allegedly small government – Reagan Values – Republicans continue to tax and spend at will.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

November 9th, 2011
2:06 am

Forty-eight million dollars($48M) goes to the school board and bond lawyers. Nice “work” if you can get it.

Greg

November 9th, 2011
2:12 am

It is disgusting to think that people forget this is coming out of our pockets for the next 5 years. This will cost tax payers a fortune all over atlanta.

OldUncleMe

November 9th, 2011
2:18 am

There has been a long term slide in public education in Georgia. Now the products of this system are running the schools and teaching the new crops. It’s a reiterative failure: bad input leading to worse output, degrading each generation further until you have, uh, this. Throwing money at the problems won’t help. Did I mention discipline? It always seems to work. Ok, that’s solved….

alan

November 9th, 2011
2:50 am

Thank God the SPLOST passed. This way EVERYONE helps pay for the schools, not just property owners. I am a single homeowner with no kids and I pay way too much tax for the schools the way it is. Taxes should also be adjusted for people that never had kids go through the school system. Its not fair.

Beverly Fraud

November 9th, 2011
3:54 am

Voters, as you CONTINUE to read stories of waste, and incompetence, and abuse of taxpayers’ funds remember one thing:

YOU voted for it. YOU told the BOEs of DCSS and APS that you TOLERATE their actions.

So when the next scandal happens don’t condemn it; EMBRACE it. Because you ENDORSED it with your vote.

In sum, you are getting the school systems you RICHLY and FULLY deserve.

Marcus Valdes

November 9th, 2011
5:18 am

Eloquently said by others, money is not the solution. Our poor education system just proved itself by the uneducated voting this approval.

malleesmom

November 9th, 2011
5:40 am

So glad we’re moving by year’s end. What a waste of tax dollars. One thing that struck me yesterday is how convenient it was that polling places for this election included our local schools. Large signs in front of polling place doors reminder voters to vote. Isn’t that a campaigning violation?

Karl Marx

November 9th, 2011
6:16 am

No here comes another mountain of debt your children will be paying off.

MA

November 9th, 2011
6:23 am

Waste, waste, waste….I certainly hope the school board sticks to their agenda and really, truly, does the things on the SPLOST list!!!

Kelly Marlow

November 9th, 2011
6:25 am

The vote in Cherokee County was VERY close…I would hardly call it a “slam dunk”! I agree with Beverly…sending a message that cheating and bullying will won over fiscal conservatism in this country every time! Talk about sad.

ChristiMac

November 9th, 2011
6:46 am

Why is anyone who supports funding for schools “uneducated”? I hardly think it wise to punish the students for any abuses/deficiencies in the way the system is run. SPLOST money goes for construction, renovation, repairs and upgrades. To combat overcrowding and, discomfort and substandard facilities. People are really against providing our students those “amenities”? How sad.

Gwinnett resident

November 9th, 2011
6:58 am

I would like to know more about this—> “Forty-eight million dollars($48M) goes to the school board and bond lawyers.”

Giving a drink to a drunk

November 9th, 2011
7:09 am

I can’t say I’m surprised that the same populace that elected Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, and Walker passed the SPLOST. Good luck with that – these clowns can’t even manage their own personal finances or graduate from college.

And, you heard it from me, when the budget talks begin, don’t be surprised if ole Walker wants to raise the millage rate. This SPLOST didn’t protect you from anything. They can and will continue to raise property taxes. So you just double-taxed yourself. If you think about the money you pump into each individual school’s PTA, you are now triple paying for the disaster of a school system we live in. Triple taxes!!!!

Good thing I can now buy a drink 7 days a week – we’ll all need it.

Dunwoody Mom

November 9th, 2011
7:14 am

In DeKalb County only 33,000 people thought it was important enought to get out and vote. Tha is pathetic. I do want to hear anymore whining from the parents in DeKalb about how bad the school system is when they could not even manage to get off their royal behinds and vote. It does not even matter how you voted, but this apathy is appalling and alarming.

Yes, Dunwoody voted NO to SPLOST and I am proud to say our community actually cares enough about the continued shenanigans in DCSS to say enough is enough!!!!

Dunwoody Mom

November 9th, 2011
7:16 am

Make that “I do NOT want to hear anymore whining…”

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2011
7:34 am

@Kelly, Just read that SPLOST passed in Cherokee 54 percent to 46 percent, which is a comfortable margin of victory.
Maureen

Dekalbite

November 9th, 2011
7:39 am

Forsyth was very close. 52% to 48%. 504 votes between yes and no. Ironic that Forsyth with the highest achievement in the entire metro area was so razor thin in their approval.

Dunwoody Mom

November 9th, 2011
7:43 am

Now, if you will excuse me I need to go submit my vote to Clorox so that Peachtree Charter Middle School can win $50,000 to replace their track that destroyed during the school’s rebuild and that DCSS refuses to replace. If you would like to help PCMS, please text your vote to: #44144 clorox8514 Thank you.

thomas

November 9th, 2011
7:45 am

Money may not be THE solution, but it has to be a part of A solution.

If Mr. Cain becomes the President, we will be paying a lot more sales taxes – to the Federal Government.

Leonard

November 9th, 2011
7:47 am

It amazes me how stupid the voters of DeKalb really are. How can you turn over millions to a group that has mismanaged all previous monies. While the schools may need repair, replacing etc. to give this money to this board shows just how stupid the voters are. The board should have been voted out first, then we could have talked about Splost.

Double Zero Eight

November 9th, 2011
7:49 am

The money will be wasted. Money is not the answer
to the majority of our educational woes. Money is
wasted at any single school with three or four
principals. That is just one flagrant example.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

November 9th, 2011
8:00 am

3.2 Billion right down the drain. This money couldve been used much more effectively for say roadways, sewer construction, prisons etc.

Sad that the voters are so easily manipulated and uneducated.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

November 9th, 2011
8:03 am

I guess the bright side is our beloved Bev now has to chance at stealing an addl $513 million, God bless her heart.

Ed Johnson

November 9th, 2011
8:04 am

dekalbed

November 9th, 2011
8:17 am

How many people in Dekalb who voted for SPLOST have spent any time in Dekalb County classrooms?

I wonder if parents and citizens would still feel that the 50% of students incapable of passing the social studies CRCT or the many students who pass English or social studies classes without having the ability to read critically or write clearly really need a new building or new technology more than meaningful instruction.

I’m really trying to understand what DCSS has done to prove that its responsible with money and committed to helping students compete in a global economy.

Please save the “it’s for the children” comments. Little that Dekalb (as an administrative entity supplying jobs) does is for the children.

Shar

November 9th, 2011
8:17 am

It is disgusting that 90% of the voters abdicated their responsibility to vote and permitted Atlanta Public Schools to continue to betray, lie, cheat, steal and embezzle on the backs of 6% of the population. There is no mandate here – these school systems scheduled the vote on an off year for a reason. It doesn’t take that many school busses full of voters being carted to their polling places to stuff the ballot boxes and suck billions of dollars out of the taxpayers’ pockets.

However, those taxpayers who have been cheated at the ballot box and cheated out of fair public service may just have had enough of old-style, heavy handed corruption and graft. There is already a movement to break up APS into separate districts. I’ve always been against, but if 6% of the registered voters foist billions in theft on the rest of the tax base, the rationale for breakup may be stronger than I thought.

Lynn43

November 9th, 2011
8:20 am

Let’s put this in prospective. If you make $50,000 a year, this penny sales tax (and I’m not a drinking person) would equal about 3 bottles of Jack Daniels or 12 packs of cigarettes or 5 bags of dog food or (maybe) 1 shirt or 1 meal for 4 at Olive Garden minus tip if you do so. Which one of your vices is more important than adequate school buildings, dependable buses, and updated technology for which SPLOST can be spent?

Once Again

November 9th, 2011
8:27 am

When you rob Peter to pay Paul, you can always count on the support of Paul (especially at the polls). Why is anyone surprised that parents who believe that it is appropriate to steal from their neighbors, local businesses, and other property owners to pay for their children’s education so that they don’t have to, would show up in droves to support more stealing from even more people – especially if it means that THEIR property taxes might not go up to pay for these schools?

Now that the parasites outnumber the hosts in this country, the end is just around the corner. Expect more and more theft on behalf of the parasites as the hosts produce less and less.

And people are actually shocked when someone correctly identifies the government school system as socialist. I guess that shows the quality of education provided by the government.

frustrated APS mom

November 9th, 2011
8:33 am

@ Maureen: is there any way to find out how many people voted that are in APS since our votes were lumped in with Fulton and Dekalb? I would be interested to know.

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2011
8:36 am

@Frustrated, Just looked to see if there was a breakdown yet and there was not. You will be able to check by precinct sometime today or later this week.
Maureen

Giving a drink to a drunk

November 9th, 2011
8:39 am

Lynne43, there isn’t a person on this blog who wouldn’t love to see money spent on our kids. It is WHO is managing the money and how BADLY they are failing at their jobs that is the issue. Once I see that the voters recognize that most of our Board is made up of clowns, then I was willing to provide as much funding as reasonably needed for our schools, provided it was spent wisely.

All this YES vote did was send a ringing endorsement for a job well-done as well as keep them from having to look at the non-SPLOST budget and clean it up. What about the money we send to “poor” counties like Gwinnett and the tens of millions we overpay our central office? Voters also said it was okay to tear down a $2 million 2005 addition to Fernbank so that they could get a new school in return for 1) votes for their school board representative 2) no redistricting. Oh, and don’t forget the Womack votes for the Coralwood addition.

Yes, there is no doubt that work needs to be done on the schools, but we do not have the people in place to make those decisions. I saw another interesting note on a facebook site – At the Board meeting Monday night, our board members didn’t even know that school buses were paid for by the state instead of SPLOST. Epic FAIL.

frustrated APS mom

November 9th, 2011
8:42 am

Thanks, I’ll keep an eye on it. I’m disappointed in the results but it won’t do any good to wallow in it. Now we need to focus on keeping a razor sharp eye on the board.

Atlanta Media Guy

November 9th, 2011
8:48 am

My question is, how much money will systems have to spend for lawyers, out of general budgets, after the 3.2 billion of SPLOST funds are doled out? DCSS has spent millions in legal fees regarding SPLOST 2 alone. Seems to me the people celebrating today are the many law firms in Atlanta, the 3.2 billion doled out is sure to create legal issues that will cost systems millions to defend or fight. It must be a great day to be a lawyer in Atlanta! I’m sure Dr. Eugene Walker has already called his law firms of “choice and color” (his words) to make sure they remember him when it’s re-election time.

I don’t care paying an additional cent for buildings, buses or technology. However, when I see those funds wasted on technology that is not needed, technology that does not work with the existing technology and 5 year old buildings being torn down for new ones, questions should be asked. In DeKalb we have two former leaders indicted on RICO charges involving a past SPLOST. Audits are performed but when they don’t have the results wanted by the leadership, they are destroyed and lost forever. I’ll be happy to give DCSS more money however when you see the waste, friends and family and lawyers winning and our kids losing in the education race I say it’s time to reassess what we’re doing. I find it reprehensible that we can have a three hour BOE meeting and not one word is spoken about educating our kids. Like past BOE members have said to me, “Follow the money!”

dekalbed

November 9th, 2011
8:52 am

Lynn43,

Little that Dekalb does is “adequate.” If Dekalb eliminated some of the 20+transportation directors and their 13 secretaries/assistants, they might find some money to maintain or purchase new buses.

Updated technology will do nothing for a district that doesn’t seem to know how to implement it. As it is, we have two different programs to input or access grades and a communications network for all students and employees, but Dekalb still operates in a paper era.

Not sure how to answer to the buildings. Doesn’t Dekalb have empty or under capacity buildings?

Really amazed

November 9th, 2011
8:53 am

That is exactly what the DOE needs!! More money to keep making the gov’t kool-aid even stronger.. The stronger the flavor of kool-aid the more the public will want to drink. Pretty smart on the DOE’s part!! Keep drinking GA!!!!

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

November 9th, 2011
9:00 am

Lynn43

November 9th, 2011
8:20 am

Lets put this in perspective. Your example is baseless as tossing good money after bad is never a solution. But you keep on that thinking cap.

Atlanta Media Guy

November 9th, 2011
9:08 am

Seems like every SPLOST, when it comes up for a vote, the DCSS(D?) BOE say we need 2 Billion in infrastructure improvements. Well they have been given over 2 Billion, including Splost IV. What do we have to show for it? Leaky roofs, science labs sitting empty, trashy properties, lawsuits, indictments, friends and family still at the payroll trough and racist BOE members, who see color, when they make decisions. It’s a wonderful day in DeKalb! The status quo should be celebrated and Tom Bowen and his BOE are very capable in deciding which areas will see improvement and which will not. It’s sad we’re not talking about education, it’s only about power and money and they got their hands on another 400 million to dole out to their friends and family.

Lynn43

November 9th, 2011
9:09 am

Sounds like Dekalb County is much different from my county. I do know that we pay for our own buses from SPLOST, and the state contributes about 20% of our overall transportation budget. No salaries can be paid from SPLOST funds. Our SPLOST “books” are open to anyone who lives in the county and would like to see them. We have nothing to hide.

MSmith

November 9th, 2011
9:30 am

We need to pray for all these people in leadership positions. No one is perfect. Not me and none of you either. I expect mistakes, but also hope that they learn from them. It only takes one bad person to corrupt You all should get more involved in the system to clean it up.

what's best for kids???

November 9th, 2011
9:31 am

Not a fan of SPLOST.
Did not vote for it.
I do like the idea that we get to vote on it, though. Too bad we can’t vote on our property taxes.

CTPAT

November 9th, 2011
9:32 am

It’s disappointing that more people didn’t feel that SPLOST was a significant enough issue to get out and vote on it (SPLOST was the ONLY thing on my ballot). Although I’m disappointed that it passed, I’d feel better about that result if I thought that it was truly representative of the county. I guess, as always, Dekalb County remains apathetic and then continues to wonder why we have it so bad.

Giving a drink to a drunk

November 9th, 2011
9:33 am

Lynn, the problem in DeKalb is that we are currently paying tens of millions of dollars in legal fees from previously screwed up SPLOSTS, and, with the exception of 3 indicted people, we have not changed the personnel who manage this money. Those legal fees are not coming out of SPLOST money, they are coming out of our general fund. So, our BOE was desperate for us to pass SPLOST so that they could keep paying money out of our general fund to pay for the mistakes they have made with past SPLOSTs.

An extra bonus this round was the obvious political favors being traded for inclusion on the SPLOST list. Our county paid an independent consultant over a half a million dollars to assess our buildings and rank them. Our BOE then took that list, switched things around, and plugged in schools as favors where they knew they could trade for future votes.

Unbelievably, we are even more corrupt now than we used to be with respect to SPLOST. Good job, voters!

Phineas

November 9th, 2011
9:47 am

Reading the comments on this blog, and the comments on the E-SPLOST blogs leading up to yesterday’s election, you’d think the E-SPLOST would have been defeated overwhelmingly. Makes you wonder about some of the folks commenting here.

catlady

November 9th, 2011
9:55 am

Ms. Downey, the adult educational levels are higher in Forsyth
and Cherokee.