New sales tax should benefit TCS

May. 09, 2014 @ 01:16 PM

Davidson County voters approved a quarter cent sales tax referendum that one day could benefit Thomasville.
More than 56 percent of the registered voters who cast a ballot in Tuesday's primary supported the sales tax increase created to generate revenue for a new high school in northern Davidson County. While the referendum initially is intended to relieve overcrowding at Ledford High School and North Davidson High School, the additional funds available to the county in the future may help renovate aging campuses in the Chair City.
Thomasville City Schools Board of Education in March endorsed education of the referendum in an effort to increase awareness of the need for educational funding. Once the new high school project is completed, TCS Superintendent Dr. Maria Pitre-Martin hopes revenue from the quarter cent sales tax increase can be used to help address capital projects closer to home.
“Definitely, we see it as an opportunity for all of our school districts in Davidson County to be able to take care of some capital needs that we have had,” Pitre-Martin said. “We know that Davidson County Schools will certainly be able to address their overcrowding issues, but we also know that in both Lexington and Thomasville we have some older schools that have facilities that will need quite a bit of upgrades and renovations. We see it as an opportunity to be able to address those needs.”
As polls closed Tuesday night, TCS finance director Tammy Stromko presented the board of education a budget proposal that included more than $9 million in capital outlay projects, including a possible total renovation of the Thomasville High School gymnasium. A complete renovation of the gymnasium is expected to cost approximately $8 million, and is but one of many issues that need to be addressed with TCS facilities. Windows need replacing, roofs are leaking and the board on Tuesday night approved a new chiller for the high school at a cost of more than $150,000.
“Our roof leaks really bad during storms to the point where you have multiple leaks going on in the gym at the same time,” said Pitre-Martin. “We have not had a true air conditioning system in that building as well. Being able to add those upgrades would be a huge benefit to us. We had a boiler that needed to be replaced in one of our schools that was unexpected. Those things will come up from time to time. We know that they will not be addressed immediately, but now there certainly could be a plan for that in the future.”
TCS plans to request a 3-percent increase from the county in the upcoming budget after receiving more than $2.6 million for the 2013-14 calendar.
“Those capital needs are some of the things we would be sharing with the county commissioners,” Pitre-Martin said. “They have been receptive to sharing our needs with them in the past so we know they will continue to be receptive to just hearing about some of the needs we are having.”
Thomasville Area Chamber of Commerce President Doug Croft also supported the referendum and said its passage helps his organization further emphasize the importance of spending money locally.
“I congratulate the citizens of Davidson County for making a choice,” said Croft. “The county is going to continue to grow population-wise. While [the referendum] was about starting with this high school, the population growth isn't going to stop. It created a new revenue for commissioners to be able to use to address capital issues going forward. We have plenty of reasons to shop local and this is another reason. It's helping fund school systems here and not other parts of the state. Nobody likes or wants to pay more taxes, but the need is not going to go away. Our schools need to be modernized, just as you would do at your house.”
TCS for the 2013-14 school year had a total operating budget of $23,902,842. 

Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or duke@tvilletimes.com.