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Hall education sales tax passes easily
Renewal of special tax to fund up to $140 million in school projects
A voter enters the Gainesville Civic Center Tuesday morning to cast their ballot for their candidate.

Voters across Hall County on Tuesday approved a new five-year round of special purpose local option sales tax to fund education-related projects for local schools.

The 1 percent sales tax, which is projected to generate between $110 million and $140 million, was approved by a 71.24 percent to 28.76 percent margin.

“I am extremely pleased that the voters of Hall County continue to support E-SPLOST,” Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said. “This penny sales tax provides a lifeline to necessary facility and technology needs within our district.”

Several major changes will come to Gainesville City Schools as a result.

For example, the tax will fund a new school in the Mundy Mill area, a renovation and addition at Centennial Arts Academy and a renovation at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy.

The city school board has already approved architects for some of these projects, and officials have outlined an aggressive timeline for completion.

Meanwhile, the Hall County School District has seven major spending priorities for E-SPLOST.

“With the passing of the referendum, we will immediately begin taking concrete steps to ensure additional middle and high school space in the southern part of the county,” Schofield said. “We will also be able to precede with our fine arts facility improvements at several high schools. It is an honor to live and work in a community that supports our local schools.”

Here are seven critical projects for the county:

• 1. New classroom space, $30-50 million

Hall school officials have said a new school is needed in the south portion of the county, and Schofield said congestion in the Johnson High School or Flowery Branch High School zones, likely at the middle school level, is the No. 1 priority in the district’s need for the tax.

• 2. Renovation of existing facilities, $30-100 million

Gordon Higgins, director of communications and athletics, said the “renovations of existing facilities” primarily include replacing heating and cooling units in schools and replacing roofs.

• 3. Student technology and related infrastructure, $20-30 million

The school district has installed audio/visual interactive wireless projectors in 720 classrooms, but has about 1,300 more to equip.

• 4. Fine arts facility improvements at East Hall, Johnson and West Hall high schools, $12-20 million

• 5. New school buses, $4-8 million

• 6. School library collections, $2-4 million

• 7. Large band instruments, $1-3 million