Editorial

It’s easy to say “I don’t have kids” or “I don’t want to pay for that” but supporting the proposed education local option sales tax is an investment in our community’s future.

The vote, which will take place on May’s primary ballot, will determine the course of our local school systems and ability to improve their existing facilities. Logistically, think of the items on this ELOST as covering for the facilities and improvements over the next seven years in each school system.

A vote for the ELOST is a vote to give our children the best facilities in which to receive an education.

In an oversimplified nutshell, the city elementary schools are serving many more children than they were designed for. The county has too many facilities for a dwindling student population.

The proposed uses for this ELOST are primarily to construct a new Rome Middle School across the loop from Rome High School. That project isn’t to just get a new middle school, it’s to accommodate the upcoming students who are currently in elementary schools.

The plan is to move sixth graders to what is now the middle school, opening up much needed space in the school system’s six elementary schools. The goal is to have the new middle school ready and open by fall 2024, Superintendent Lou Byars said.

The Floyd County School System is proposing improvements at all its existing facilities including HVAC system and roof replacements with technology upgrades. Armuchee High School would specifically be getting new kitchen and plumbing as well as a new modernized field house, Superintendent Glenn White said.

He’d like to use this ELOST to make sure the county’s athletic facilities equate with the city schools’ and is looking at adding lights to baseball and softball fields as well as turf fields for football and synthetic tracks at each high school.

Other options?

Prior to the penny sales tax, school construction depended on the voters passing bond issues. Instead of building the funds organically, you also have the issue of having to pay interest on those bonds. Interest rates are low now, but it’s likely they’re going up soon.

The old mechanism of voters approving bonds involved some inherent conflict. If improvements for one district were sought, especially in the county, then the voters in the others tended to react negatively because there was nothing specifically in it for them. The shortsightedness of that view jeopardizes students across the city and county.

An ELOST allows for the communities in which they’ll be used to specify main projects as well as fill other needs.

While there’s been criticism of some SPLOST plans, the ELOST has been a consistent and beneficially used mechanism to fund school projects for years now.

The ELOST program works and uses EVERYBODY’s extra cent when it comes to the education of our children. Tourists, visiting relatives or somebody from out of town who wants to come eat at the Texas Roadhouse or maybe even The Varsity some day — that cent stays here and pays for our children’s education here.

We ask that you support the education in Rome and Floyd County in May.

Thank you for reading.

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