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ESPLOST dollars at work: SMS improvements nearly finished

It seems recent headlines have been discussing millage rates, property assessments, and tax increases and we can sometimes forget that taxes also come with benefits. In the case of this article, it concerns our recurring ESPLOST revenues.

As a reminder, the constitutional amendment approved by the voters of Georgia in November 1996 allows local board of educations the option of calling for a referendum to ask their voters to approve a SPLOST. If the voters approve the referendum, the SPLOST revenues may be used for the following: specific capital improvement projects for educational purposes, and/or retire General Obligation Bond debt previously incurred with respect only to capital outlay projects and/or issue new General Obligation Bond for specific capital outlay projects to be paid with SPLOST. The rate shall be 1 percent. The tax shall not be subject to any sales tax exemption such as food and beverage exemptions. The length shall be imposed for a period of time not to exceed five years.

The Crossroads Chronicle recently visited with Dr. Willie Gibson at Swainsboro Middle School to discuss the $2.8 million renovations and get a look at what has been going on there.

It was very evident that Dr. Gibson was proud of the renovations and began the tour by taking The Chronicle through the front office area, which has received major changes. Dr. Gibson stated the architects did a great job taking areas that were once wasted space and designing a truly functional front office.

First, a new intercom system was installed that will allow the front office staff quick connection to classrooms.

The new nursing office is now located in this area instead of on the eighth grade hallway that includes an area for students, an office, and new restrooms. There are new conference rooms as well as counselors offices and the in-school suspension room (which Dr. Gibson hopes will not be needed very much).

There is new tile flooring throughout the building and, according to Dr. Gibson, the material used in the tile has really reduced noise levels in the entire school.

All classrooms received new carpeting, and there were new practice rooms added in the band room.

New LED lighting was installed through the building as well as new ceiling tiles, and the building received a fresh coat of paint.

There are new conference rooms in the area where the nurses office used to be that can be utilized by teachers for parent conferences when needed.

New water fountains were installed with water-saving bottle refills that are a must during this COVID era.

There were also new sprinkler heads installed to bring the fire suppression system up to current standards.

There is still ongoing renovations in the gym that will be completed in the next few weeks, and the books in the media center, which will re-open soon, are being re-shelved.

Swainsboro Middle’s principal completed the tour by discussing the new paving that was completed around the entire school. This gives the areas where the busses load and unload students as well as the front parking and teachers parking areas a really fresh look.

The Crossroads Chronicle would like to thank the Emanuel County Board of Education for seeing the need to upgrade all schools for students and teachers and for spending tax dollars wisely.

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