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Long County ESPLOST renewal up for vote in March
Pelton named system special ed teacher of year
EDU Long special ed teacher of year
Long County School System Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters, left, with Barbara Pelton, the system's special education 2016-17 Teacher of the Year. She was presented with the award at Monday's board of education meeting in Ludowici. - photo by Jeff Whitte

Voters in Long County will soon be asked whether they want to renew a one cent sales tax for education to pay off debt from bonds issued in 2011 to build Long County High School.

The Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or ESPLOST, will be up for a vote March 21.

It would be the fourth renewal of the ESPLOST in Long County if passed, according to Long County School System Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters.

If approved, the renewal of ESPLOST can raise no more than $2.7 million or continue five years, whichever comes first. It wouldn’t begin until the current ESPLOST ends in June.

While school officials can’t lobby voters to pass the sales tax, they can provide information.

The biggest message from Waters to school board members at Monday’s meeting was that without ESPLOST, property owners will have to take up the slack.

"The importance of the ESPLOST is that if it does not pass, by law we’ll have to levy a millage on property owners," Waters told board members. "So those folks who are property owners will be truly trying to make sure this passes so everybody who drives through this county will have the opportunity to help us pay for (debt on the high school)."

Were voters to say no, property owners, who are already paying an additional 1.6 mills for “bond debt service associated with the new Grade 3-8 school construction,” according to the sheet.

Without ESPLOST funds, the millage rate could increase by 4-5 mills, according to the sheet.

Also Monday, Long County High School teacher Barbara Pelton was honored as the school system’s 2016-17 Special Education 2016-17 Teacher of the Year.

“She’s a champion for all her students and for the district as a whole,” LCHS principal David Edwards said. “She wears many, many hats … and does not complain one time. How she gets it all done, I guess she’s superwoman. We’re proud to have her on staff and in our system, and look forward to having her here 25-30 more years.”

Pelton received a plaque from Waters, who said the teacher’s impact went beyond special education.

“It‘s obvious every day. It doesn’t matter who the kid is, she’s going to help them,” Waters said.

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