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Our Views: Vote 'Yes' for local ESPLOST on Tuesday
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      There is an election Tuesday. Or, more precisely, there is a referendum. Only one issue is on the ballot, but make no mistake, what Bulloch County voters elect to do will have as much direct impact on their lives as any vote they will cast for some time.
      Residents will decide Tuesday to continue or not to continue the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Known as ESPLOST, it would not raise taxes, but would maintain a penny of Bulloch's sales tax dedicated to Bulloch school projects, if approved. The extra penny of revenue helps pay for renovations at all schools and will fund new facilities for Portal Middle/High and new elementary schools for Sallie Zetterower, Mattie Lively and Julia P. Bryant.
      Bulloch is one of only a handful of Georgia's 159 counties that specifies a penny tax for education and we believe voters should vote "Yes" and approve the ESPLOST referendum. We believe the immediate future of quality education in Bulloch County is at stake.
      There is no denying the physical plants of the above mentioned schools are woefully outdated. They are in such poor condition, in fact, we believe they sometimes are a hindrance to improving the education of our children.
      The deficiencies of the Portal High facility are numerous, and all the city elementary schools are overcrowded and need to come into the 21st Century, nine years after it began.
      Students at Portal, Sallie Z., Julia P. and Mattie Lively will receive site and technology upgrades that will increase the learning potential for every student.
      Georgia's education troubles are well documented. From last-in-the-nation SAT scores to schools not meeting the requirements of the federal "No Child Left Behind" mandate, our state's schools must get better. We recognize that simply building new schools, doing renovations and adding some computers is not going to instantly improve the education given Bulloch's children. Education is a partnership of administrators, teachers, children and their parents or guardians and their community. If one part of that equation isn't working, a child's education probably will be lacking.
     We, however, also recognize that due to decades of neglect to capitol improvements, the school facilities themselves are a handicap to improving our children's learning. If the schools are not significantly upgraded in the immediate future, they won't be able to offer our children the kind of education they deserve. Passing ESPLOST on Tuesday is the best way to make the necessary physical plant changes in the immediate future.
      Remember, too, that everyone who buys something subject to sales tax, whether they are a Bulloch County resident, a Georgia Southern University student or a visitor from Nebraska, would contribute to paying for our new schools.
      Frankly, there are three alternatives if ESPLOST doesn't pass - all bad.
      1.) Wait one year to put another ESPLOST referendum on the ballot. Further delay would put our children and the schools system another year behind.
      2.) Raise property taxes and use the resulting extra funds to finance the new schools and other renovations and upgrades. In these tough economic times, school board members would be reluctant to vote for such a politically unpopular method to raise money.
      3. Do nothing -- the worst option of all. Under no circumstances should our schools be allowed to deteriorate any more.
      Voting "Yes" to ESPLOST is the easiest and fastest way to provide facilities that will help improve education for our children.
      The Statesboro Herald recommends a "Yes" vote in the ESPLOST referendum on Tuesday.


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