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SPLOST would fund new schools
If passed in upcoming vote, one-cent tax would be continuation of current SPLOST
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    A renewed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) in March will fund three new elementary schools as well as improvements to other schools in the county, said  Charles Wilson, assistant superintendent for Bulloch County schools.
    Bulloch County school leaders met Thursday night at the new Statesboro High School for the county-wide school council meeting to discuss issues including an upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Tax (SPLOST) vote.
    Citizens will head to the polls March 17 to vote on a third SPLOST, which would be a continuation of a penny tax on the dollar that goes to education, Wilson said.
    The one-cent tax won’t be an increase, but a continuation of the current SPLOST, he said.
    The first new school to be built is the new Julia P. Bryant Elementary. Bids will be let this spring, and if all goes as planned, a new school will be constructed in  the 20-acre field adjacent to the old school, at the corner of Stockyard and Westside roads, he said. If schedules remain as predicted, the new JPB building — to hold 900 students — will be completed by September of 2010, he said.
    There is enough money from past SPLOST funds to complete this particular construction, he said. But the new SPLOST, if voted in March 17, will fund new buildings for Mattie Lively and Sallie Zetterower elementary schools, Wilson said.
    After the new Julia P. Bryant school is completed,  students attending Mattie Lively Elementary School will be temporarily moved to the old Julia P. Bryant school building, having classes there while the old Mattie Lively Elementary (on Debbie Drive) is demolished, he said.
    The new Mattie Lively Elementary building must be constructed on site, so students will attend class at the old JPB school for about a year and half, he said. The new Mattie Lively Elementary building should be finished and inhabitable by March, 2012, if construction begins around Oct. 2010 as planned, Wilson said.
    Then, the old Julia P. Bryant building will be demolished, he said.
    “Once an old school building stops being used, it becomes a financial burden and becomes unsafe,” he said.
    School officials hope to purchase a 20-acre parcel on Cawana Road, he said. Providing  the third SPLOST is passed March 17, the land will be purchased and will become the site for a new Sallie Zetterower Elementary, Wilson said.
    The school is currently located at the intersection of Gentilly Drive and Brannen Street. If the SPLOST passes, “construction could begin this summer and be completed by winter of 2010,” he said.
    Other school improvement projects that would be funded by the third SPLOST (which provides one cent from the seven cents on a dollar sales tax in Bulloch County to the school board for facilities expenses) are a new gymnasium at Portal Middle-High; a field house and athletic improvements at Statesboro High School; a new stadium at Southeast Bulloch High School; classroom additions at Mill Creek and Langston chapel elementary schools over the next five years; and system-wide technical improvements, Wilson said.
    Bids on current construction at Portal Middle-High School are expected to come in Jan. 22, and BOE officials will then decide whether a new gym for the school is feasible, he said.
    He said he expects the SPLOST referendum to pass, and reiterated to citizens that passing the SPLOST “ will not increase (taxes) but be a continuation of the current” one-cent tax allotted to the Bulloch county Board of Education.

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