The Educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax provides the framework for facilities growth aligned with the District’s Strategic Plan. The first ESPLOST went into effect on January 1, 2007, and brought about upgrades, new schools, and improvements to school technology. The funds were used in two ways; the first included $67 million dollars to retire existing bond debt over the five year period. Secondly, the remaining funds were used to build new schools, and provide facility and technology upgrades.
On November, 8th, 2011, the citizens of Savannah-Chatham County overwhelmingly approved the continuation of this one percent sales tax. The ESPLOST (EII) extension is for a $330 million limit or 5 years (whichever comes first) and is being used to continue the improvement of facilities and equipment, as well as technology resource upgrades for students, school renovations, and security enhancements. Additionally, the extension will pay $47 million dollars of previously incurred bond debt. Without ESPLOST the payment of bond debt may have resulted in increased property taxes. The ESPLOST extension provides a method of funding that everyone pays, not just property owners, as sales tax is paid by everyone who shops or stays in Chatham County. A majority of these funds are generated by people who live outside Chatham County.
With the passing of the ESPLOST (EIII) continuation in Chatham County on November 8, 2016, existing bond debt will continue to be paid, resulting in the eventual elimination of $139,706,985 million dollars of bond debt that would have been the burden of tax payers. Facility improvements will continue and new schools will be built. The approved ESPLOST continuation is not a new tax - it is a continuation of an already existing, voter approved penny sales tax. As more and more families choose public education for their children, capital improvement continues to be a critical success factor for the accommodation of enrollment growth and facility improvements. Now serving more than 38,000 students, Savannah-Chatham Public Schools see an increase in enrollment on an average of 600 new students each year. With the support of ESPLOST dollars, facility improvements have contributed to the expansion of the school district and the many success stories we have enjoyed, such as a graduation rate that now tops the state average!
We hope you will find the following pages useful and full of important information. The information on this website will provide an understanding of the level of stewardship and oversight provided for the use of this valued penny sales tax.
The power our pennies is having an immeasurable impact right here in Chatham County, and provides for the continued advancement of public education in our community!