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Rome, Floyd school systems review sales tax projects

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As the ELOST 3 comes to an end and the ELOST 4 is about to begin, the two local school systems are taking a look at what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last five years and are looking forward to new projects.

Rome and Floyd County schools share revenue from a 1-cent education local option sales tax, once known as their SPLOST but now called ELOST to differentiate from the governments’ collections.

Collection of the ELOST 3 ends today, and the ELOST 4, which voters approved in November, begins Tuesday.

“I am happy that we have a seamless transition to ELOST 4,” said Jeff McDaniel, superintendent of Floyd County Schools.

The schools’ ELOST 3 was projected to bring in $79.1 million when it passed five years ago, but the Great Recession turned the total take into something like $72 million. One more payment remains.

Floyd County Schools’ share is expected to be $47.4 million instead of the projected $49 million. However, the system will be able to complete the projects they planned using the ELOST 3 funds.

“We have been very fortunate,” said McDaniel. “Our staff has worked tirelessly to estimate the costs properly and to make frugal choices.”

Rome City Schools will probably end up with $24.6 million instead of the original projected amount of $30.1 million, said Finance Director Steve Atha. But, unlike government SPLOSTs, state law doesn’t require all projects in an ELOST package to be completed even if the money’s not there.

“We did have plans for more technology being bought, but we plan to move this to the list for ELOST 4,” Atha said.

ELOST 3 projects

Floyd County has several projects funded through ELOST 3 that are still underway but the larger projects are essentially complete.

  • Pepperell Primary School: $100,000.

Renovations to Pepperell Primary’s driveway and parking lot are scheduled to start May 1.

  • Armuchee Elementary School: $650,000.

The heating and air system replacement is planned to begin June 1.

  • Pepperell Elementary School: $15,000.

A security upgrade is underway that will be a pilot program for the other schools in the system.

  • Pepperell Elementary School: $900,000.

Four classrooms were added in anticipation of moving the third grades from McHenry Primary, Midway Primary and Pepperell Primary to Pepperell Elementary for the 2014-2015 school year

  • Floyd County College and Career Academy: $375,000.

Work on a new roof is planned to begin June 1.

  • Alto Park Elementary School: $1,008,917.87.

The school got six new classrooms and an enclosed walkway to the gym. The system also painted the building, repaired the parking lot and made repairs to the communications system.

  • Coosa High School: $2,377,463.09.

The system installed closed-circuit TV in the field house. They also constructed an auxiliary gym and science classrooms, which will be incorporated into the new Coosa High School to be built with ELOST 4 funds.

  • Model High School: $30,107,297.74.

The new Model High School was completed in 2010.

  • Floyd County Schools also used its funds to paint multiple schools and replace or install HVAC and CCTV where needed. Several schools had the gyms refurbished. Bathrooms and cafeterias in multiple schools were refurbished as well. ELOST 3 also paid for new school buses, technology upgrades in the media centers and computer labs, and Direct TV and new smart boards in all the schools.

Rome City Schools completed three major projects and a number of improvements, but their biggest project is still under construction.

  • Anna K. Davie Elementary School: $11 million.

The new school in South Rome is expected to open in January 2015. Jeff Bearden, superintendent of Rome City Schools, said the system has $9,252,911.65 remaining from ELOST 3 collections for the construction and plans to use about $1 million in capital outlay funds to supplement the project.

  • Rome High School band room addition: $1.2 million.

The project has been completed.

  • Rome High gym addition: $4.1 million.

The project has been completed.

  • Rome High classroom additions: $4.4 million.

The project has been completed.

  • Miscellaneous: $5 million.

Rome City Schools also made repairs and improvements to the transitional academy and the central office. They bought new technology and new buses, and made improvements and repairs to Elm Street, East Central, Main, North Heights, Rome Middle, Southeast, West Central and West End.

ELOST 4 projects

Because the ELOST 3 collection was less than originally anticipated, the school systems are going into the new five-year ELOST expecting about $69 million.

  • Floyd County Schools is expecting its share to be $43 million.

The county has two Priority 1 projects and a number of lower-priority projects: Coosa High School at $32 million and security upgrades at $3,750,00.

Officials hope to have the new Coosa High — which will be built in front of the existing school — finished by October 2015. The second phase will be done by September 2016. It includes demolition of the old school, repaving the faculty and staff parking lot and revamping the old vocational building to use for a weight room, cheerleader dressing rooms, a greenhouse and a computer lab.

Lower-priority items include $2 million for system-wide technology upgrades, $300,000 for McHenry Elementary School kitchen upgrades and $3.75 million for heating and air system upgrades.

Officials plan to upgrade HVAC at Glenwood, Armuchee Middle, Armuchee High, Alto Park, Cave Spring, Garden Lakes, Coosa Middle, Johnson, Model Elementary, Midway, Model Middle, McHenry, Pepperell Primary, Pepperell Elementary, Pepperell Middle and Pepperell High.

A total of $300,000 worth of gym renovations are planned for Glenwood, Alto Park and Garden Lakes. This will include pulling out carpet, tearing out old bleachers and replacing them, repainting and relighting.

  • The Rome system is projecting a total of $26,034,988 from ELOST 4, according to Atha.

Rome City’s plans for these funds include increasing security measures in schools for around $2.3 million.

“We plan to bring all of our schools in line with the same security upgrades,” said Superintendent Jeff Bearden. “Many schools already have a buzz-in system at the front door and we are going to have that at all of our schools.”

Rome City is also planning to purchase classroom technology at a projected cost of $5.4 million.

Another $15 million is earmarked for making school additions and modifications, which includes adding classrooms at West Central, roofing for multiple schools and modifying the Main cafeteria.

The system also has $3.2 million in school repairs and maintenance planned.