Voters in Atlanta and Fulton and DeKalb counties will decide on May 24 whether to continue special sales taxes for school projects. Together, the taxes are projected to raise more than $2 billion for local schools.

School officials in each of the three districts – Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County School System and the DeKalb County School District – seek public approval to renew an existing Special Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax for education, or E-SPLOST.

A majority of “yes” votes would extend collection of the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax from 2017, when the current taxes end, through 2022.  The districts have collected SPLOSTs since the 1990s.

APS says the Atlanta tax is projected to raise more than $540 million for school projects in the city, including about $371 million for construction and renovation projects; $67 million for technology improvements; $22 million for athletic upgrades; and $20 million for transportation.

Fulton County’s tax is expected to raise $976 million over the five years. One of the projects to be financed through the tax is a new building for Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs and modifications to the labs, art rooms, black-box theater and other facilities at North Springs High School in Sandy Springs.  Revenues from the extended sales tax also will pay for two new high schools focused on science, technology, engineering and math and for additions to existing schools to handle growth, the school system said in a press release.

The DeKalb tax is expected to raise $500 million over the five-year period, the school system says. That includes $230 million for new facilities and additions, including new school buildings in north DeKalb; $100 million for facility condition improvements, such as new air-conditioning systems; $65 million for technology improvements; and $15 million for safety and security improvements, the district says.

State Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody has criticized DeKalb County school officials for drafting a ballot measure he says is not specific enough in how the money will be spent. School officials have defended the language on the ballot and say a detailed project list will be developed after a series of public meetings later this year.

For more information on the various E-SPLOSTs:

On Atlanta:

On DeKalb:

On Fulton:

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.