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Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax III


SPLOST III Talking Points and FAQ

SPLOST III  Puntos de Conversación y Preguntas Frecuentes

THEME: Revitalizing Cobb County Schools

  • Cobb County residents enjoy a high quality of life resulting from the value created by relatively low tax rates, and relatively high academic performance from local schools.
  • SPLOST stands for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax – a 1 percent sales tax on retail goods. Revenues from the tax must be used for specific capital improvement projects at local schools.
  • Approximately 90 percent of the District’s operating budget pays salaries of teachers and other staff. The remaining portion covers daily operating expenses such as utilities – water, natural gas and electricity – fuel, and supplies such as textbooks.
  • Cobb County is one of the only counties in Georgia that exempts all seniors 62 years and older from paying any school property tax.
  • Before SPLOST, the school district issued bonds that were repaid – with interest – entirely by property owners.
  • Bonds must be repaid over many years with interest. For instance, a $221 million bond issued in 1995 for school construction was paid back with an additional $92 million in interest. SPLOST revenue, on the other hand, is used as it is received – pay as you go. There is no interest to pay back.
  • Those who do not pay property tax and/or live out of the county, but work and play in Cobb, pay a significant portion of the SPLOST – estimates say 30 percent or more.
  • By paying off all of the district’s long-term debt, SPLOST funds were used to eliminate the debt-service millage rate and lower the property tax rate.
  • Over the last 10 years of growth in Cobb the focus was on new classroom construction. Now, many maintenance and infrastructure needs in school buildings must be addressed.
  • SPLOST III will focus on revitalizing schools.
  • More than one third (36 percent) of all Cobb County schools are older than 40 years.
  • Timely maintenance and renovations today will prevent much more costly infrastructure emergencies in the future.
  • Since 1988, the Cobb County School District has grown from an enrollment of 67,000 students to more than 106,000.
  • Growth is expected to level off for the next five years, or so.

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  • Since SPLOST I was approved in 1998 and SPLOST II in 2003, we have seen:
  • 21 new schools
  • 1,982 new classrooms
  • Hundreds of maintenance improvements, including new roofs, paving, painting, plumbing, landscaping, electrical, heating & air, etc.
  • Safety improvements, including lighting, fencing, video surveillance cameras, and access control systems for elementary schools.
  • New technology including the replacement of more than 33,000 computers five years or older, plus a personal computing device for every teacher.
  • 280 portable classrooms eliminated in five years.
  • Bond debt of $184 million paid off in February 2007 making Cobb County one of only a few school districts in Georgia that is free of long-term debt.
  • More than 1,500 total projects completed (or currently in progress) as promised to voters.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is SPLOST?
SPLOST stands for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. It is a one-cent tax on all consumer goods that must be approved by voters in a referendum. SPLOST receipts can be used only for school related capital improvements. The current SPLOST in Cobb County expires Dec. 31, 2008.

What will SPLOST III accomplish?
School buildings continue to have maintenance, technology and safety needs. The first 10 years of SPLOST focused on building new schools and classrooms to address overcrowded conditions that resulted from rapid population growth in Cobb over the last few decades. Population growth in Cobb has slowed recently. That’s why SPLOST III will add some new classrooms, but is mostly focused on revitalizing existing school buildings – even replacing some of the oldest buildings – to address maintenance needs that have developed. More than one third of Cobb school buildings are older than 40 years. Even newer school buildings need new paint, new flooring, and other revitalization – the result of the wear and tear that occurs from hundreds or thousands of students moving throughout the buildings day after day. In addition, most technology – such as desktop computers – typically has a lifespan of about five years and must be replaced. District-wide, that amounts to about 35,000 computers.

What do property taxes fund in the school district?
About 90 percent of the district’s operating budget, which is supported by state funding and local property taxes, goes to pay the salaries of teachers, administrators, bus drivers, food service employees, custodians, and other staff. The other 10 percent pays for items such as textbooks and supplies, as well as utilities such as fuel, natural gas, electricity and water. State funding and local property taxes do not provide substantial funds for regular building maintenance, or for technology enhancements. Prior to SPLOST, the district issued bonds that had to be paid back over several years with interest by property taxpayers.

Will SPLOST address trailer classrooms?
By the end of summer 2008, the school district will have removed approximately 325 portable classrooms as a result of the SPLOST II program. That means the district will have cut the number of portables nearly in half from its high mark of about 680 portables just five years ago. SPLOST III will continue to reduce portable classrooms, while at the same time replacing many older single-wide portables with brand new double-wide units. Unfortunately, some portables will remain at schools due to space limitations on some campuses, and because they provide flexibility for schools to address enrollment shifts.

Who provides oversight of the SPLOST program? The District’s SPLOST Accountability Manager monitors bidding for projects to ensure that design and construction stay within projected costs, and that projects are completed on time. The district will hire a program manager to direct all projects from start to finish, including design and construction. In addition, the Board of Education has appointed a panel of local businesspeople – the Facilities & Technology Review Committee – that meets monthly to review all bids and verify that the SPLOST program is operating efficiently and maximizing taxpayer dollars. Finally, an outside firm conducts an annual performance audit of the SPLOST program. SPLOST performance audits are available on the district web site at:

What is planned for my school?
SPLOST III features projects for each of Cobb’s 114 schools. Check with your school principal for a current list of planned projects, or click here to view projects.

What are the proposed expenditures for SPLOST III?
    Facility Improvements
        Maintenance / Renovation                 $225,758,136
        Additions / Modifications                    $213,164,186
        New / Replacement Facilities              $101,654,872
    Safety and Support                               $132,309,481
    Curriculum / Instruction / Technology      $109,770,000
    Land                                                       $15,000,000
 TOTAL PROPOSED EXPENDITURES              $797,656,675

New and Replacement Facilities

  • Constructing a total of 223 new classrooms with a net increase of 85 at the elementary school level and an increase of 40 classrooms at the high school level.
  • Replacing three of the oldest elementary schools: Eastside, Mableton and an undetermined school in Smyrna. The proposal also will add a new ninth grade center in the West Cobb area, as well as ninth grade center additions at North Cobb and South Cobb high schools

Additions / Modifications

  • Adding to existing facilities a total of 179 classrooms with a net total increase of 143 (34 at the elementary school level, 42 at the middle school level, and 67 at the high school level).
  • Providing an additional $14,588,963 for “Undesignated Classrooms” to include the construction of and/or purchasing of classroom space, including portable classrooms, and for the enhancement of existing portables.
  • Constructing major additions/modifications/renovations at the following locations: North Cobb, South Cobb, Campbell, Sprayberry, and Pope high schools; Garrett, Hightower Trail, McCleskey, Pine Mountain, and Simpson middle schools; Bells Ferry, Sope Creek, Cheatham Hill, and Nickajack elementary schools.

Maintenance / Renovation

  • Maintenance projects including parking lot repaving, additional parking spaces, drainage enhancements, fencing repairs, landscaping, playground equipment, tennis courts and track resurfacing, reflooring, painting, HVAC, plumbing, fire suppression for all locations and various electrical upgrades (fire alarm systems, emergency generators, sports lighting, etc).


  • Continuing to maintain the existing technology infrastructure, as well as upgrading servers, switches, data center, phone systems and adding capacity for centralized video distribution.
  • Providing computing devices, printers, and copiers for classrooms and schools, sound systems in the fine arts programs, and graphing calculators for math classes.

Safety and Support

  • Continuing to improve school safety by adding access controls, surveillance cameras, security fencing, signage, and traffic controls.
  • Providing support functions, including buses, vehicles, equipment, school-level equipment for growth and replacement, renovations for Accessibility for Disabled, student information system, human resources / payroll system and textbooks for students.

A referendum to extend SPLOST five years was held on Sept. 16, 2008.

SPLOST III Improvements for individual schools
(High School and Feeders)

Allatoona High School
Awtrey, Durham, McClure
Big Shanty, Bullard, Due West, Ford, Frey, Kennesaw, Lewis, Pickett's Mill

Campbell High School
Campbell, Griffin
Argyle, Belmont Hills, Brown, Fair Oaks, Green Acres, King Springs, LaBelle, Nickajack, Norton Park, Teasley

Harrison High School
Durham, Lost Mtn., McClure
Bullard, Due West, Ford, Frey, Kemp, Lewis, Pickett's Mill, Vaughan

Hillgrove High School
Lost Mtn., Lovinggood
Cheatham Hill, Dowell, Due West, Kemp, Still, Vaughan

Kell High School
McCleskey, Palmer
Big Shanty, Blackwell, Chalker, Keheley, Kennesaw, Nicholson, Pitner

Kennesaw Mtn High School
McClure, Pine Mtn.
Bullard, Cheatham Hill, Due West, Frey, Hayes, Lewis

Lassiter High School
Mabry, Simpson
Addison, Davis, Garrison Mill, Kincaid, Mountain View, Rocky Mount, Shallowford Falls

McEachern High School
Cooper, Tapp
Austell P & I, Clarkdale, Compton, Dowell, Hollydale, Powder Springs, Varner

North Cobb High School
Awtrey, Barber, Palmer
Acworth, Baker, Big Shanty, Chalker, Frey, Kennesaw, Lewis, McCall, Pitner

Osborne High School
Campbell, Floyd, Griffin, Smitha
Argyle, Belmont Hills, Birney, Brown, Cheatham Hill, Dowell, Fair Oaks, Green Acres, Hollydale, King Springs, LaBelle, Mableton, Milford, Nickajack, Norton Park, Russell, Sanders, Teasley

Pebblebrook High School
Garrett, Lindley
Austell P & I, Bryant, Clarkdale, Clay, Harmony Leland, Riverside P & I, Sanders, Sky View

Pope High School
Dodgen, Hightower Trail
East Side, Kincaid, Mt. Bethel, Mountain View, Murdock, Shallowford Falls, Timber Ridge, Tritt

South Cobb High School
Cooper, Floyd, Garrett
Austell P & I, Birney, Bryant, Clarkdale, Hollydale, Mableton, Norton Park, Powder Springs, Russell, Sanders, Sky View

Sprayberry High School
Daniell, McCleskey, Simpson
Addison, Bells Ferry, Blackwell, Chalker, Keheley, Kincaid, Mtn View, Nicholson, Rocky Mount, Sedalia Park, Shallowford Falls

Walton High School
Dickerson, Dodgen
East Side, Kincaid, Mt. Bethel, Murdock, Sope Creek, Timber Ridge

Wheeler High School
East Cobb
Brumby, Eastvalley, Powers Ferry, Sedalia Park, Sope Creek