Superintendents in rural Georgia counties hopeful for funding restoration

CSRA News

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Funding cuts forced school superintendents to make to make difficult decisions in the 2020-2021 school year. Governor Brian Kemp slashed funding by $950 million statewide as the COVID-19 pandemic strained resources. The Warren County School System suffered a loss of more than $300,000, which forced the district to evaluate how to save money.

“Every single grade level we have has an extra teacher that’s locally paid or paid by a federal grant,” Carole Jean Carey, the Superintendent of the Warren County School System, says. “We were preparing to have to start cutting. Where you cut to get that kind of money is in personnel. It would have been devastating for us because we really need every single teacher.”

Fortunately, the Warren County School System did not lose any teachers. Funding from the CARES Act provided relief. The Lincoln County School District faced a similar conflict. Superintendent Dr. Samuel Light tells NewsChannel 6 the district considered cutting its Fine Arts department, which includes three teachers.

“We were able to maintain those teachers,” he explains. “Without that, we would have lost those programs.”

Governor Kemp is now urging the state legislature to restore 60 percent of the funding that was cut in fiscal year 2021. In Lincoln County, the money will go back into the district’s General Education Fund, which was used to pay for personal protective equipment.

“There’s so much money we have spent up front, like the thermometers you use to take temperatures. I didn’t plan on spending that in the budget.”

After a year of heartache, Light and Carey are thankful they can continue to support their staff who have faced unprecedented obstacles.

“Our teachers are irreplaceable,” Carey says.

“Our kids are on the front lines everyday,” Light adds. “Our teachers are there holding them, helping them and making it right.”

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