SOCIAL CIRCLE --The Social Circle Board of Education has approved a call for a SPLOST election and intergovernmental agreement with the Newton County School System, making way for an election in March.
The Social Circle board unanimously approved the measure during its monthly meeting on Thursday. As part of the agreement, the city school system would receive $250,000 for capital projects if voters approve the SPLOST, or special purpose local option sales tax, on the March 19 special election.
"The money that we receive will be used for construction projects that we have going on and for the future new elementary primary school project," said Tim Lemonds, chair of the board.
The Social Circle board had to approve the call for the SPLOST referendum because a portion of the Social Circle City school district is in Newton County.
The intergovernmental agreement between the two originally was established in May 2007. It 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.
Last month, the Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved the agreement and a call for an education SPLOST 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 grade. 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.
Donna Morrison, director of Elections and Registration for Newton County, estimated that the special SPLOST election will cost about $38,000. That includes the payment of poll workers on election day, ballot printing, election night support, setting up equipment for election day, early voting and so forth.
In September 2007, only 6.5 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the special SPLOST election in Newton County, and 86 percent of those voters approved the continued tax. In 2003, about 10 percent of voters cast ballots in a special SPLOST election.
NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews said that holding the March election is the latest time to do so in order to provide continuity with current SPLOST funds.
Editor Alice Queen contributed to this article.