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.”
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