MARION - Williamson County schools have received nearly $70 million in sales tax revenue since the 1-cent tax increase was approved by the voters in 2008.
Regional Superintendent of Schools Lorie LeQuatte said the Regional Office of Education received its 126th monthly payment for the Williamson County school facility sales tax and its 82nd payment for Franklin County.
Funds received for Williamson County totaled $663,160.98 last month as compared to Franklin County's $207,090.23.
That translates to $253,060.67 for Marion - the largest school district in the county; $157,102.48 for Herrin; $142,523.37 for Carterville; $72,141.46 for Johnston City and $31,420.40 for Crab Orchard.
In total since July 2008, schools with territory in Williamson County have received a total of $69.9 million. Schools with territory in Franklin County have totaled $16.4 million.
School districts may use these funds on building construction and maintenance items and not on teacher salaries or operating funds. Many new building projects have been funded by these tax distribution.
"The School Facility Sales Tax revenue has been beneficial for schools in both Franklin and Williamson County, as well as many other counties in the state who have this opportunity," LeQuatte said. "There are strict guidelines as to how the sale tax can be used by schools. The sales tax can only be used to maintain, renovate, and upgrade current facilities; new construction; reduce property tax by paying off bonds or reduce the need for future bonds.
"Our schools have been struggling for many years due the fact that the state has prorated funding to schools," LeQuatte said. "We now have Evidence-Based Funding in place and hope to see our schools funded at a capacity to provide an education based on equitable funding throughout the state."
More specifically, LeQuatte said. students have benefited by the updated or new athletic facilities, HVAC systems, building renovations, new construction, parking lots, exterior lighting, and so on. Districts have also been able to pay down building loans at a faster rate saving communities interest.
"Continued support of the sales tax within our counties allows the districts to use the Evidence-Based Funding to support our students academically, socially, and emotionally, while using the sales tax to provide updated, safe, and secure facilities," LeQuatte added.