Affluent Cobb schools benefit more from E-SPLOST funding

Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or E-SPLOSTs, have been a critical source of money to build and renovate schools since Georgia voters legalized the self-imposed, penny local sales tax 20 years ago. But not all students have benefited from the money school boards doled out.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution analyzed decades of E-SPLOST spending and found that schools with a higher percentage of low-income and minority families are more likely to be stuck with dilapidated buildings, subpar technology and other problems that can impede learning, while most new schools are built to serve more affluent populations in growing suburbs.

In Cobb, nearly two-thirds of the schools built with Cobb’s penny sales tax in the past 20 years opened to student bodies with affluent majorities. The percentage of children in the Cobb schools who are poor has risen significantly since that school tax began, from about one child in six in 1997 to fewer than one child in three.

Meanwhile, population growth has been a significant factor in where new schools are placed. Nearly two-thirds of the new SPLOST schools in Cobb were built inside or within a mile of a census tract where the population grew by 25 percent or more between 2000 and 2010, the AJC found.

Fulton, Atlanta Public Schools and DeKalb school systems have E-SPLOST resolutions up for vote on Tuesday. Cobb is expected to have one in early 2017.