Citizens of Whitfield County/Dalton will soon be heading to the polls to cast their ballot in the mid-term elections. On the ballot will be the question to continue the one-cent sales tax for education or ESPLOST (Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax). This continuation of a penny tax on purchases made within Whitfield County provides revenue for Dalton Public Schools and Whitfield County Schools to complete capital improvement projects.
ESPLOST revenue can only be used to pay for capital improvements such as construction, renovation, land acquisition, technology and infrastructure, vehicles, debt service, textbooks, and equipment. This is our sixth consecutive ESPLOST campaign since 1997.
At the top of our capital needs list is the renovation of Roan School. Built in 1969, Roan still uses an aged boiler to heat the building. We need to replace the old unit with a modern, efficient HVAC system as well as paint and replace flooring and lighting.
Next, we plan to add classrooms at Westwood School. The school is currently at capacity and we need to add six classrooms to meet enrollment needs.
Third on the priority list is Park Creek which was built in 2001. The school needs a new roof and HVAC system as well as new flooring, lighting and paint.
Another ongoing priority is to refresh our student 1 to 1 devices by purchasing about 1,800 devices for students in grades 3, 6 and 9 annually. We would also refresh staff devices on a three-year rotation.
In an effort to reduce the bonded indebtedness of the district, we plan to use $4.7 million of the ESPLOST revenue to pay towards the debt service principal for the General Obligation Bond used to build Hammond Creek Middle School.
The Harmon Field press box, field house, and restrooms are also on the priority list to be renovated. These facilities need to be renovated with new fixtures, flooring, paint and lighting.
We are interested in converting the former Fort Hill School to a central office for finance, human resources, enrollment, teaching and learning, and the superintendent’s office. Currently, district administrators are in four different locations including City Hall.
With the rising costs of construction and supplies and the shortage of available workers, it will be difficult to fully fund all of these projects. However, these are the priority projects that are at the top of the list of capital needs in our schools.
We expect to receive some state reimbursement of capital outlay funds from the Georgia Department of Education for the Roan and Park Creek projects which could be about $2 million.
ESPLOST revenue is critical in providing quality facilities and technology for students and staff in Dalton Public Schools. Just a few of the major projects we’ve been able to complete using ESPLOST V funds include renovation of Brookwood and City Park schools, upgrade of security in all schools, renovation of the former sixth-grade wing of Dalton Middle School for The Dalton Academy and the creation of a regulation-size soccer field in collaboration with the City of Dalton. A full list of ESPLOST projects can be found on our website at www.daltonpublicschools.com/district-resources/esplost.
To vote in the upcoming elections, voters must be registered by Monday, April 25. Early voting will be from May 2 through May 20. There will be two opportunities to vote on Saturday, May 7 and May 14. Election Day is Tuesday, May 24.
If you’d like to learn more about the upcoming ESPLOST, Dr. Mike Ewton, superintendent of Whitfield County Schools, and I will be making a public presentation in the council chambers of City Hall on Tuesday, May 10 at 6 pm. We would love to have everyone attend.
I’d like to thank our community for supporting the past five ESPLOST campaigns, and I encourage everyone to get out and vote on May 24.