March 2-- Toombs County voters are being asked to approve continuation of a one percent local option sales tax for education when they vote in Tuesday's Presidential Primary Election.
If approved, the sales tax would raise $29.5 million over a five year period with the money divided between Toombs County schools and Vidalia City Schools.
Vidalia's school system would get just over $14 million. "Of course we'll maintain the roofs on our buildings and our parking lots and do the general maintenance on our buildings. We're in the process now under the current SPLOST of completely renovating all of our facilities, so most of our brick and mortar work is done," says Vidlaia School Superintendent Dr. Tim Smith.
"What we've got to do now is move into electronic education and let our students use computers and technology a lot more than we have in the past. This is not something we need to do, it's something we have to do to make our students competitive in the world market," he says. "We need to completely upgrade our servers and storage capacity because if we go into textbooks on computers as opposed to paper textbooks, we've got to have tremendous amount of storage space to give our students access," Dr. Smith points out.
Dr. Smith points out that sales tax revenue is restricted on how it can be spent, but at the same time it frees up property tax revenue to offer a better curriculum at the schools.
"The SPLOST money can only be spent for large dollar capital projects which last over an extended number of years. The more of those kind of projects we can pay for with SPLOST money, the more local money we can transfer into our instructional program and those are like the art, music, computer labs and those kinds of things," Dr. Smith notes.