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Vote yes on bond for schools

POSTED: May 18, 2014 8:03 a.m.
 

There are a lot of reasons why the Forsyth County school system is exceptional.

Superb classroom teachers. Visionary administrators. Affluent households where education is valued. Hardworking, motivated students. Involved parents. Community support. Proven long-range planning strategies.

All combine to make the county schools among the best in the nation.

But one contributing factor that is easy to overlook is the proven willingness of county residents to support the schools financially above and beyond what other communities are willing to do. Time and again, local residents have voted to increase their own taxes, be it property taxes or sales taxes, to provide the funding necessary to keep the schools top caliber.

Tuesday, voters are being asked to do so again, with a $195 million bond referendum on the ballot. If approved, the bond would be matched with $52.8 million in state funds, for a total funding package of $247.8 million.

Money from the bond would be used in four areas — to make improvements to existing schools, improve school safety, advance technology, and meet the demands of continued growth.

The bulk of the money would go to projects needed to manage the school system’s ongoing expansion in size. Of the total, $104 million would be earmarked for new school construction and land acquisition, with another $80 million set aside for additions and modifications to existing schools.

Another $9 million would go to transportation expenses made necessary by growth in the system.

The improvements to existing schools, safety improvements and technology upgrades are certainly worthwhile projects and, in some cases, badly needed. But staying in front of the growth curve and making sure that facilities are there when needed is essential if the school system is to remain among the elite.

Many local residents remember what it was like when growth routinely outpaced capacity in the local system and mobile classrooms made some school campuses look like mobile home sales lots. Some may even remember the days of double sessions in some schools.

We don’t want to be there again.

The school system is the third fastest growing in the nation; the seventh largest in Georgia. And it hasn’t stopped growing yet, with some 1,700 new students enrolling each year.

If the bond is approved, school officials hope voters will retire the debt by renewal of the existing education sales tax when the current tax expires. If that happens, property taxes will not be increased to retire the bond.

But regardless of which tax bucket is used for repayment, the fact is the money needs to be spent, the school system has proven itself to be a good steward of the people’s pocketbook, and the students of Forsyth County deserve a community willing to invest in making the school system the best it can be.

We hope you will vote yes to the school bond on Tuesday.

 

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