With sales tax renewal, DeKalb school district plans new buildings

C.K. Hoffler (center) wore a face shield as she voted at Cross Keys High School located at 1626 N Druid Hills Rd NE in DeKalb County last year. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
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C.K. Hoffler (center) wore a face shield as she voted at Cross Keys High School located at 1626 N Druid Hills Rd NE in DeKalb County last year. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

The DeKalb County School District plans to construct new buildings and renovate several others after voters Tuesday approved a five-year extension of a penny sales tax for capital improvements.

“With the support of DeKalb County voters, we will continue to provide safe, clean and innovative learning environments for our scholars,” Superintendent Cheryl Watson-Harris said in a news release.

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Watson-Harris thanked staff and volunteers on the advisory committee for the education special purpose local option sales tax, or E-SPLOST. She also thanked everyone who virtually attended town hall meetings for the school district’s comprehensive master plan.

School districts use E-SPLOSTs to pay for capital projects and technology. The revenue from the special taxes can’t be used for daily operating expenses such as salaries.

More than 80% of DeKalb voters approved the tax renewal, which takes effect in July when the current five-year tax expires. The DeKalb school district estimates the renewal will generate between $660 million and $700 million in revenue. City Schools of Decatur will also get an estimated $41 million from the tax.

The DeKalb school district plans to spend the money on a new Cross Keys High School and the creation of a Sequoyah school cluster that will include a new elementary, middle and high school, according to the news release. The district plans to repurpose McNair High School into a career and technology academy and merge Dunaire and Allgood Elementary Schools into one new school with an early learning center. The district also plans to rebuild Hawthorne Elementary and merge it with Henderson Mill Elementary.

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Other projects include a converting Avondale High School into a performing arts academy with a new building and stadium and converting Towers High School into a cyber technology and engineering academy. The district plans to rebuild Dresden, Stoneview and Jolly Elementary Schools and Henderson High School. The district also expects to create a school at Austin Elementary that will serve kindergarten through eighth grades.

Finally, the renewed tax will pay for new early learning centers and technological infrastructure improvements, according to the news release.