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Newton school board approves call for SPLOST election

COVINGTON -- Even though the Newton County Board of Education was split earlier this month on a vote concerning an educational SPLOST resolution, they eventually united to call for the election.

The school board unanimously approved a call for an education SPLOST, or special purpose local option sales tax, referendum that will permit Newton County voters on March 19 to decide if they want to extend the existing 1 percent tax for education for a five-year period from 2015 to 2019.

It would be the fourth round of an education SPLOST for the county that started in May 2007.

The tax would be used for capital projects, including a new high school, and to pay the principal and interest on bonds issued for education for the five years that the SPLOST is collected.

Taxpayers in Newton currently pay 1.90 mills for debt service for school bonds. If the SPLOST is approved, $30 million of the SPLOST revenue will be used to pay the principal and interest on bond debt coming due on Feb. 2, 2014 through Aug. 2, 2020.

About $45 million in SPLOST funds will be used to build a replacement high school for Eastside High and for other capital projects. According to the NCSS facilities plan, the Eastside building eventually is expected to transform into the system's theme school for kindergarten through eighth grades; a parent-involvement theme school for kindergarten through sixth grades currently is housed in the old Ficquett Elementary building.

Other projects could include maintenance and technology needs, and, if necessary, additions to existing school buildings.

Because a portion of the Social Circle City School District is in Newton County, the Social Circle Board of Education will have to also call for the SPLOST referendum in order for it to go before the voters. Social Circle would receive $250,000 for capital projects if the SPLOST is approved.

Social Circle is expected to vote on the project on Dec. 13.

Accompanying the tax referendum, the Newton school board also voted to continue the intergovernmental agreement between Social Circle City Schools and the Newton County BOE, which originally was executed in May 2007, which provides for each system to make property tax payments for students residing within the respective school district boundary but attending the other school district's school system.

Newton school board Chair Eddie Johnson tried to get his fellow board members to approve the SPLOST referendum at the board's work session earlier this month, causing the split vote. Board members Shakila Henderson-Baker and Jeff Meadors said they wanted more time to look over the proposed referendum; additionally, they pointed out that the item was not on the agenda as a voting item until the meeting later in the month.

Board member Almond Turner made a motion during the work session to approve the SPLOST referendum, but later rescinded his motion so the board could vote at the later meeting.

Editor Alice Queen contributed to this article.

Comments

henrystamm 2 years ago

The only thing the school board does best is conning the hard working taxpayers. Why are we even have to pay for an outrageous bond that they promised the education splosh was to pay. Where did the money go? But what can you expect from a bunch of incompetent and stupid members, sorry not so stupid conmen, the 52% dumb enough to vote for that garbage. Social Circle do not fall for this con job!

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livingart 2 years ago

NO-NO-NO- Education taxes of the county taxes are at the TOP scale in the state already. Better education or improvement in personnel or educators has not greatly improved since I have been paying these overly high county education taxes for 35 years. The more monies these people receive; the more money they squander. I live on a BUDGET....Why can't they.

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Newtownqq 2 years ago

I agree with you that they only thing the school board does is con the tax payers. It seems they want to build an expand to solve their educational problems. Not one thing was mentioned about how SPLOST could pay to higher more teachers or provide more educational resources, No its lets build another school! Building another school with Carpenter overseeing the project is nothing but trouble! Why all this bond debt? Our home values has sank to an all time low , so tax collected revenue is low. But lets look at how many vacant bank owned homes and property there are. Most often they fail to pay property tax and allow leins to build until it sells. Maybe Tommy Craig can offer design plans for the new school, he seems the be a DAM construction expert in the county! Why not try his hand at building a school!

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Thishonky 2 years ago

Anyone can sue anyone. A group of taxpayers can file class action against LaQuanda Carpenter for filing a frivolous lawsuit. Her emails related to the case and those of her husband are done on school system email. She even dismissed her case to the entire Alcovy High faculty on October 9th on SCHOOL EMAIL paid for by taxpayers so we as taxpayers can sue LaQuanda Carpenter for costs incurred on her suit.

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jwm1955 2 years ago

The shape that Newton County board of Education is in now wanting more money to waste, I dare the board to cut their salaries, Mr.Carpenter, his wife's salary. And the high salary that Mr. Matthews gets. Who knows all the salary cuts might help keep a teacher from having take furlough days. Vote No, Property taxes are to high , just more money to fatting thier pockets.

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John 2 years ago

New schools do not make for better educated students, better teachers, better administrators!!! Eastside is a mere 18 years old (not even old enough to have a beer). NHS school was 50 years old before it was replaced and the infamous AHS was added on to within just a couple years after opening (an almost carbon copy of EHS, except EHS has no trailers). I went to a high school that was built in 1923 and is still open today. Yes, it was added on to a few times. Seems like our School Board members are acting a whole like our "fiscally irresponsible" group in Washington D.C. that just luv to spend other peoples money without any accountability.

The first and foremost objective of this board should be to bring the student performance up to standards that are higher than the state of Georgia. This should be relatively easy to do as Georgia ranks as one of the bottom feeders nationally (one of the others is Mississippi) which is and has been for at least the last 16 years - even with cheating going on in the Atlanta school system.
Our school superintendent gloats over a 1 point improvement on a writing test - let's get a 10 point improvement for a few years in a row and you might get a round of applause. Our students, citizens deserve and expect more than miniscule improvements - that's why these people (admin, principles, vice principles, etc. get paid the big bucks. Oh! Just in case there is some doubt I will vote NO on March 19. And what exactly does this mean? "According to the NCSS facilities plan, the Eastside building EVENTUALLY IS EXPECTED" to transform into the system's theme school". Sound like Wimpy's of Popeye comics famous saying "for a hamburger today, I'll pay you two on Tuesday" What is wrong with Ficguett as a theme school location? I wonder what this "spend like crazy board" has thought what to do with Ficquett IF it is EVENTUALLY no longer a theme school. Last time Ficquett was to be closed - when Flint Hill was open but then Whoops! someone found a reason to keep it open and remain a cost to the NC tax payers. Remember certain people "forget & forgot' things when they are budgeted & planned for - like roads begin wide enough to handle bus traffic for Flint Hill, lights for the athletic field at the new Newton HS and who knows what else. That equals get out the check book. Fixes or adjustments after the contract is signed will always cost more than if they were included from day one. Every contractor I've known luvs making adjustments/changes after the contract is signed sealed & agreed upon - that's how they pay for those big expensive vacations.

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Frustrated 2 years ago

Lets see...they are building a new school now and forgot to figure in costs of lighting hte athleic field at an additional cost to tax payer os $500 K, forgot to talk with the water and sewerage dept to figure in the cost of water and swerage at a cost of who knows how muchafter the legal fees were paid. Now they want us to approve additonal money for them, Carpenter, to make more mistakes with new buildings? I dont think so.

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Billy 2 years ago

Home schooling and private schools are the wave of the future. Children can already attend virtual classrooms via cable/dsl internet at safe locations with family, (away from drugs, gangs, bullies, violence, and even worse, careerist staff and lawsuit minded drama queens). Where there's a will, there's a way; if you look into it, you'll find plenty of alternatives and for all income levels. Plus, you can have religious study and prayer, since it's not a goverment operation. The ACLU can't come into your home--yet. Anything is better than the current circumstance.The only people who object to the above are agnostics and government employees...NEXT!

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dennistay53 2 years ago

Say i have a bad headache, go to the doctor and he gives me a prescription. I'm not going to just pop the pill in my mouth. First i'm going to read what the side effects are. That is what the boards need to do before calling for approval of a SPLOST. You have limits with a SPLOST. They should ask if these are the most important things that are needed in the school system. Would it be more important to use the money for what would make the school system better than it would to build buildings. What are the side effects if you use SPLOST for buildings and tie this avenue up for years. Where do you get the money if more important needs come along. By the defeat of the TPLOST, voters are saying they are tired of governments asking for more money without total research of the needs.

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NoSPLOST 2 years ago

Vote NO to SPLOST on March 19th. Not another penny.

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dennistay53 2 years ago

After being lied to by county commissioners on the 2011 SPLOST i will never again vote for ANY SPLOST in Newton County. I will activity work to DEFEAT any SPLOST in the future. Liars have to be held accountable by the voters.

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Satan69 2 years ago

Splish splash Splost goes SPLAT VOTE NO NO NO March 19th!

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Shart15 2 years ago

@dennistay . . . well you need to work on defeating the education SPLOST in Newton County scheduled for a vote on March 19th. Less than 10% of voters turn out for a SPLOST in Newton so if you can make them your NO voters - and I agree with you - then it will fail and the school system will have to regroup.

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dennistay53 2 years ago

Exactly what i'm gonna do. Anybody inside the system needs to look for ethic violations as this is moved forward. They can't legally use government resourses, time or money to push it. Bet they will try.

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MamaTurd 2 years ago

Keep a close eye on the admins at Live Oak Elementary.

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NoSPLOST 2 years ago

The school system has this on their site from 9/18/2007. Alcovy High's addition sat in darkness for months. What projects did they FAIL to handle within their budget? Just overlooking 500K in stadium lights? Suddenly finding 2M without making the Supt aware? The Operations Department got Ombudsman wrong and promised 2 sites - we got one - and the cost was high to the system. Attorney fees for WSA garbage and the LaQuanda Carpenter civil suit - how much were those attorney fees? Problems made worse at Airport Road? Who is overseeing the system budget anyway? And do we even need a new high school? Eastside does NOT WANT A NEW SCHOOL. And Sharp? They Sharp? A 2nd stadium?

NO NO NO NO NO TO SPLOST MARCH 19th 2013.

From 2007:

The proceeds from the SPLOST and GO Bond Referenda will be used for the following projects:

■Three new elementary schools. ■One new middle school. ■One new high school. ■An addition to Alcovy High School. ■Band/ROTC addition to Eastside High School. ■Renovations at existing schools, including Newton High School. ■Improvements to Sharp Stadium and possible construction of a second stadium. ■Improved technology throughout the school system. ■Payment for existing school buses which were acquired through bus purchase financing as well as future bus acquisitions. ■Payment towards existing bond indebtedness in order to maintain the current low rate of one mill for debt service.

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NoSPLOST 2 years ago

SPLOST & Bond Referendum On September 18, 2007, Newton County residents passed the school system’s $110 million Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and general obligation bond referenda for schools.

By approving the SPLOST Referendum Newton County residents approved the continuation of the existing one-penny sales tax that was set to expire on December 31, 2009. These revenues will be used primarily to construct three new elementary schools, a new middle school, an addition to Alcovy High School; to make improvements at existing schools and Sharp Stadium; to improve technology; to purchase buses and to reduce the district’s general obligation principal indebtedness. This sales tax is limited to 60 months of collections or until a set amount of revenue has been received, whichever comes first.

The passage of the General Obligation Bonds referenda will provide the school system revenues to be used primarily to construct a new high school, complete the new middle school, and make additions/improvements to existing schools. This General Obligation Bond indebtedness is scheduled to be paid by a continuation of the current one mill for debt service after it is scheduled to expire in 2016.

The growth in our county is well documented. It was reported that from 2000-2006 Newton County was the 4th fastest growing county in Georgia and the 11th fastest growing county in the nation. We have continually grown by more than 1,000 students each year. At this rate of growth, more than 25,000 students are projected to be enrolled in our schools by 2013, the anticipated completion date of the proposed construction and improvements.

The proceeds from the SPLOST and GO Bond Referenda will be used for the following projects:

■Three new elementary schools. ■One new middle school. ■One new high school. ■An addition to Alcovy High School. ■Band/ROTC addition to Eastside High School. ■Renovations at existing schools, including Newton High School. ■Improvements to Sharp Stadium and possible construction of a second stadium. ■Improved technology throughout the school system. ■Payment for existing school buses which were acquired through bus purchase financing as well as future bus acquisitions. ■Payment towards existing bond indebtedness in order to maintain the current low rate of one mill for debt service

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John 2 years ago

I thought that the NCSS reported enrollment for the 2012/2013 enrollment was 19K plus some change and that is about the same level as 2011/2012 school year.
An enrollment of 25K in 2014 would be a real stretch. Growth always has an upside, a plateau and sooner or later a down side. The growth of vacant houses unfortunately grew significantly since 2007 in NC and obviously other places. The well document history of rapid growth does not mean it will continue on at t he same rate in the future. Started "really" working in 1967 & lived through 4 recessions of 1 year or longer and several more of 6 to 8 months. The longest period of time between a recession of one year or longer was from 1991 to 2010 at which time many thought & spent like the good times would never stop. Paying attention to economic history is always a good teacher. As I often say the Hula Hoop fad didn't last for ever either.

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NoSPLOST 2 years ago

Taxpayers - these numbers don't fall - they RISE. Do not trust the school officials on this SPLOST marketing. Look - this is from their own website and they promised lower millage:

Ten year comparisons - note the higher numbers as the years go on the last year here is 2012.

M&O 17.21 17.21 17.21 18.21 18.21 18.21 18.21 18.21 20.00 20.00

Debt Service 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.00 1.12*

Ten-Year Millage Comparisons 18.21 18.21 18.21 19.21 19.21 19.21 19.21 19.21 21.00 21.12

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dennistay53 2 years ago

I thought the debt service was up to 1.9 this year?

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ThePublicGood 2 years ago

I don't know John but he makes excellent points here. The enrollment declines monthly in NCSS. Students are fleeing to private and home schools and parents are moving - some of it is housing and jobs but some of it is clearly the bad situation at Alcovy High School - just a fact like it or not and the unwillingness for the central office to remove people who are apparently not qualified for given jobs. Eastside High school by and large does NOT WANT A NEW BUILDING. Ask anyone there and you will get 9 of 10 saying leave us the heck alone. They like it the way it is. The theme school has a wonderful principal but the design of the school is crumbling. The parents continue to be problematic and micromanaging and even board member(s) have shown they are disgruntled with things and teachers (some not all) did not find green pastures here. Technology? We have spent many bucks here and I don't see this needing to be in SPLOST when almost all of our schools are now in Title One and getting MAJOR BUCKS from the feds for technology so pooey on that. This SPLOST can't pass and the BOC SPLOST overage on the judicial bldg shows just what happens - give them your vote and the promises get broken. Problem here is that even within NCSS most don't approve of the items on the SPLOST. EASTSIDE HIGH SCHOOL DOES NOT WANT TO BE A BIG NEW SCHOOL. TAKE IT FROM THE "ALCOVY EXPERIMENT" - WE DO NOT WANT IT. Plus who oversaw the addition to Alcovy High that had no lights or heat or air for what six months? Yep you know who did that right? NCSS needs a lot of work but the work needed does not cost money. The central office needs to bring employees in line with policies. That is free and in fact could save money.

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dennistay53 2 years ago

We just had an election in Nov and now a month later they vote to have another in March. Elections cost money that we the taxpayers have to pay. While could this not be included in the Nov election to save money? Also, SPLOST by law can't be used to staff, maintain and run these facilities that keep getting built. With M&O millage maxed out what are the plans for money to operate these facilities if the tax base doesn't increase as anticipated? The only choices would be more debt or cutbacks such as laying off teachers and increasing class size which wouldn't be good.

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spencerid 1 year, 10 months ago

I believe that what we need is a new system, not only new people to replace the old ones. The schools are always in danger when a revolt begins. For instance online education system is the best solution in this situation. The schools need people with human services degree. These kind of people are the key to solve the real problem.

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