The Cherokee County school board reviewed proposed projects Thursday for the Education Special Purpose Location Option Sales Tax renewal on the ballot this fall.

In the Nov. 2 election, for which early voting is underway, Cherokee County residents are being asked whether to renew the existing 1% sales tax for another five years.

If approved, the extended Ed-SPLOST will provide funds for major construction projects including: a new/replacement Cherokee High School and Free Home Elementary School; classroom additions at Creekview High School, Woodstock High School, Creekland Middle School and Oak Grove Elementary School STEAM Academy. Also part of the proposed projects are a second gymnasiums at River Ridge High School and Creekview High School; and athletic facility improvements at Etowah High School and Sequoyah High School. There are also districtwide renovations at schools, including repairs and improvements to HVAC systems, roofing, and flooring, technology infrastructure and improvements. Ed-SPLOST funds would also replace 30 aging school buses each year for five years.

CCSD also uses Ed-SPLOST dollars to pay off bond debt, which historically has been taken out for capital projects. The school district has built 19 new schools in the last two decades.

According to the school district, if voters do not extend the Ed-SPLOST, there will be an automatic 5 mill increase in property taxes, which is a 25% increase on every tax bill, to continue making debt retirement payments. It would also halt the proposed projects.

At their work session Thursday, school board members also discussed possible uses for the current Cherokee High School campus, if the Ed-SPLOST passes and a new high school campus is built.

Preliminary ideas being considered include repurposing the main campus to serve as the new home for the Cherokee College & Career Academy, which opened this school year with one career pathway – cybersecurity – at the ACTIVE Academies campus (also home to ACE Academy, Transition Academy and i-Grad Virtual Academy on the former Teasley campus). The Cherokee North campus could be returned to use as Canton Elementary School, or it could be repurposed as a districtwide preschool and/or Pre-K center.

Before any of these ideas can come to a vote, the school board would use the traditional community review process to hear stakeholder input.

The school board also heard an update on the next state legislative session to begin preparing their annual Legislative Partnership Priorities. School board members also heard presentations on the Superintendent’s Leadership Academy Executive Coaching program, which offers school and CCSD administrators a new level of professional development, and a new dashboard created by the state to track school system spending of federal COVID-19 relief grants.

They also heard from district staff on COVID-19 cases, which continue to decrease both among CCSD students and staff and the community at large.

For more information, visit www.cherokeek12.net.

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