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Gainesville school officials highlight need for SPLOST
Collected revenue would go to renovations, construction
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Early voting

What: Special purpose local option sales tax for education
When: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays, Wednesday through March 11
Where: Hall County Elections and Voter Registration Office, Suite 2, 2285 Browns Bridge Road, Gainesville

Gainesville City Schools board members are informing the public about projects that could be funded by a special penny tax in the coming weeks.

On March 15, voters will decide whether to support a renewal of the 1-cent sales tax, used to fund school renovations or construction.

To notify voters about the proposed project list, the board is highlighting a different project each meeting leading up to the vote.

Monday night, the school board looked at Fair Street International Baccaulaureate World School, the district's oldest school facility. The building was constructed in 1937.

Part of the money from the special purpose local option sales tax, SPLOST, would be used to replace the school on the existing site.

"Our cost estimates indicate it would cost $12 million to fix infrastructure issues, but for just a little bit more money, we could get a brand new school," board member David Syfan said. An estimated $19 million would be used to replace the facility.

Gainesville Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said inspectors have found major concerns with the building, such as a sinking sub floor.

They recommended that students can only be housed in the building for two more years before the needs must be addressed.

"This is the first of those two years," Dyer said.

If the SPLOST passes, the tax would be collected for five years and generate about $25.5 million for Gainesville City Schools.

Construction could begin on the new school as early as September.

In other business, the school board met with the charter system leadership team Monday to discuss ways to increase its role.

The team, formed three years ago, acts as ambassadors to the school system and provides recommendations to the superintendent to help develop policies, rules and regulations for the district.

The team is made up of parents, teachers and principals who meet three times a year and are appointed by the school board.

Recently, the team has expressed a desire to provide more help to the board.

"We want to look at your service and ways to make it more meaningful for you and more useful for the school system," Syfan said Monday.

Team member and grandmother Sally Meadors recommended more frequent meetings.

"I would also like to know what the focus of the meeting is ahead of time so we have time to collect information," she said.

The board said it could be useful for the team to take on a focus group role.

Syfan said the group could also assess the needs at each school and determine which projects would be the highest priority if the SPLOST passes.

"It would be helpful to me as a board member if we had a list of priorities," Syfan said.

The board will look at shifting the team's role next month.

The school board also reviewed a proposed calendar for the 2011-2012 school year, which would include potential inclement weather makeup days built into the schedule, May 4 and 7. It could also approve a calendar without the option.

The board expects to announce a decision on the issue at the next school board meeting.


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