EVANS, Ga. (WJBF) – More coronavirus relief is coming into Georgia. Public schools are expected to receive more than $1.5 billion in federal COVID-19 aid from the second round of CARES Act fuding.
Governor Brian Kemp delivered his second “State of the State” address Thursday calling for more funds to go to K-12 schools to make up for the cuts they had to make last year. The governor also announced public school teachers and many other school employees will receive a $1,000 bonus.
Governor Kemp said, “Working closely with state school Superintendent Richard Woods, the state will provide additional support to school system reopening efforts. Equating to a one-time supplement of $1,000 per teacher and other employees.”
To fund these bonuses, the state will use $240 million in federal coronavirus relief funds, $60 million of that bonus money will come from Governor Kemp’s office and about $180 million will come through the Georgia Department of Education’s withheld CARES act funds.
“Many of them have had to miss work because of being quarantined or isolated so this will be a welcomed acknowledgment of all their hard work and certainly a benefit to households,” said Columbia County Schools Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway.
Governor Kemp claimed, “Wearing a mask, adapting to the new normal honestly made educating overwhelming. But the great men and women running Georgia schools didn’t miss a beat.”
Kemp is aiming to restore more than half of Georgia’s education cuts made last year. He says he wants to add a net of $650 million to the current budget and up spending to about $26 billion.
He said, “We are putting our money where it truly matters. To plant the seeds to grow in our state for years to come.”
Bonus payments are not a required use of CARES phase two funds but it can be a big help.
“In the original CARES Act we received close to $8 million and this renewal or I guess should say the second CARES Act our school district is receiving close to $9 million,” said Dr. Carraway.
Dr. Carraway is expecting COVID-19 cases to increase in her school district because of the holidays but she is remaining hopeful.
She added, “We’re going to feel that for the next two weeks or so. And then after that, it’s our expectation once again see the numbers at least stabilize but our expectation is to see them decline.”
State school Superintendent Richard Woods will make the recommendation to allocate the bonus funds at the next state board of education meeting in February.