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School system to receive nearly $1 million from state
Tanner, Ralston explain funds during talk
I-State money for schools pic1
From left, Superintendent Damon Gibbs, Board of Education member Roger Slaton, BOE member Doris Cook. House Speaker David Ralston, Rep. Kevin Tanner and BOE member Will Wade pose for a photo following a state budget talk on July 19 in Dawsonville. - photo by Allie Dean

A new roof for Robinson Elementary and funds to pay off improvements at Dawson County High School and the Performing Arts Center were allocated to the Dawson County school system in the Georgia 2017-2018 state budget, which was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal May 1.

In all, $980,326 was appropriated to the school system for capital improvements.

Dawson County Schools Superintendent Damon Gibbs explained how the money was awarded during a meeting with State Rep. Kevin Tanner and Speaker of the House David Ralston July 19.

"The state does something for local school districts that's really special in the state of Georgia, and that is they sell bonds each year to help us fund construction projects, especially the infrastructure piece for us because we're building schools and adding onto schools and we've been fortunate in Dawson County to be the recipient of those funds throughout the years," Gibbs said.

Gibbs explained later that the money is granted, based on need, from the state each year in the form of capital outlay funding. Capital outlay funding is a reimbursement program and funds only a portion of the actual cost.

Of the funds, $574,017 will go towards a new roof at Robinson Elementary school, set to be started and completed next summer.

"The roofing project for Robinson will go to the board later this fall as an ESPLOST project request," he said. "The funds from the state can be requested once the project is complete."

The other portion of the funds, $406,309, will continue to help pay for the Performing Arts Center, which was completed last year at the same time as interior renovations at the high school.

"The total cost of that work was approximately $13.5 million," Gibbs said "It was paid from bonds that were sold when ESPLOST V was approved. The bonds will be paid back during the five year ESPLOST based on a predetermined payback schedule."

Gibbs said the state funding was applied for after the completion of that project and will be used to repay a portion of the funds that were bonded.

"I think that it will be an investment in a community that is growing, that is having more and more demand put upon the public school system," said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge about the money that is allocated for Dawson schools. "Y'all are meeting it well and I'm happy to work with you and partner with you in that regard."

Rep. Tanner, R-Dawsonville, said that as he calls the county home and has three daughters in the public school system, he fights for Dawson County schools at the state level. He praised Ralston for his help in passing the balanced budget and allocating funds to the county.

"I just want to publicly thank David Ralston...for being able to help use his influence to be able to get some funding in this year's budget for our Dawson County school system," he said.

According to Tanner, K-12 construction bonds are grouped together in a package and are included on one line item of House Bill 44, the state budget bill.

The bill can be found at:
http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/Documents/2018_FiscalYear/FY_2018_Bill_Conf_Cmte_Version.pdf