APS Redistricting: Mary Lin's SPLOST Expansion Was Never Guaranteed
Expansion projects, like the one Mary Lin Elementary community has been expecting through Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes, are not guaranteed.
Candler Park's Mary Lin Elementary School has waited a long time for an expansion to the campus that parents believed they were promised.
They believed by voting to approve a specific schools tax — called Special Purpose Local Option Sales Taxes — they'd get the funds needed to pay for a physical expansion to the school, which has been overcrowded for years.
But in a wide-ranging interview between Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll B. Davis Jr. and Patch, the superintendent said SPLOST funds are not guaranteed to any project.
"Promises were not made in SPLOST," Davis told Patch. "They were indicators of what we would spend the money for if we had the money."
The issue is in focus for Mary Lin, which also serves Inman Park and Lake Claire in addition to Candler Park, because APS is in the midst of rezoning many of its schools.
The redistricting is necessary because some schools, including Mary Lin, are overcrowded, while others, such as Toomer Elementary in Kirkwood are nearly half-empty.
Of the two preliminary options parents and district officials are currently reviewing, Candler Park is supporting Option A, which calls for an expansion of Mary Lin by an additional 176 seats. The expectation is that the expansion would be paid for through SPLOST funds.
Option B calls for Mary Lin to merge with Toomer with APS deciding how to split the schools' K-5 grades.
SPLOST projects are designed to address identified needs. Mary Lin hasn't been renovated since 1994 and its 4th and 5th graders atend class in trailers.
But fulfillment from SPLOST funds is contingent upon the district getting the money it expects, Davis said.
Even if it gets the SPLOST money it anticipates receiving, the district is not obligated to spend that money on a particular project, Davis said.
"We understand that there are no guarantees, and that APS must take the needs of all children into account with regard to its budget," Kate Sandhaus, communications officer for the Candler Park Neighborhood Organization told East Atlanta Patch.
"The Mary Lin project is a worthy and much-needed one that gets kids out of trailers, and brings the school up to APS and Department of Education standards. We're hopeful that APS will give Mary Lin the help it needs."