Muscogee County School Board approves tentative SPLOST projects list

The Muscogee County School Board approved a tentative project list for a proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax during their meeting Monday night.

At the top of the proposed project priority list is a new Carver High School, expected to cost about $45.3 million. The list also includes air conditioning for all gymnasiums and land for future buildings.

Other new facilities on the list include a new middle school, expected to cost about $21.5 million; two new elementary schools, expected to cost about $14.4 million each; and a new performing arts academy, expected to cost about $15.7 million.

The 33,000-student school district is trying to prepare for the enrollment growth expected after the U.S. Army relocates the Armor School from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning. Base Realignment and Closure growth is expected to bring about 4,300 students to Muscogee County schools in the next two fiscal years.

The board has not formally voted to ask the public for a SPLOST, but a tentative referendum date has been set for Sept. 15. A special election for the SPLOST would cost about $100,000.

If passed, the SPLOST could bring in an estimated $223,155,784.

About half of that is expected to be spent on new and replacement facilities. Another $5 million could be set aside for land purchase.

The district will hold community forums in the coming weeks to get public input on the proposed SPLOST project list.

“This is the tentative list and now it’s your turn to let us here from you,” board member Cathy Williams said. “Participate in our great public conversation about what is great in this community.”

Board member John Wells mentioned that Columbus is a regional hub for shoppers from surrounding areas, who would contribute to the sales tax money raised. He also stressed that the list is just a beginning and will be refined over the coming months.

“This is not the finished list,” Wells said.