Kemp commits $47 million in federal COVID-19 relief for education

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

The largest chunk gives teachers $125 for classroom expenses

Gov. Brian Kemp has announced how he will distribute more of the discretionary funding Congress gave him and other governors for pandemic relief in education.

Money for classroom expenses is his largest line item in the $47 million disbursement.

Teachers often dig into their own pockets to pay for things like books, pencils, facial tissues and rugs. Kemp is giving $125 classroom grants for all K-12 teachers and paraprofessionals in the state toward their expenses.

That allocation totals $15.4 million — about a third of this latest round of pass-through funding.

The money is from the federal Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund. Kemp has previously moved larger sums. For instance, he announced a $105 million allocation in August 2020 that included $29 million for school broadband extension.

More than half of the current outlay will go toward K-12 schools and related services, including $4.7 million for dyslexia screening and intervention and $4 million for 10 future charter schools. About $18 million is dedicated to college students, mostly to expand the pipeline of teachers, nurses and commercial drivers.

“With this new round of support, we will help get our educators and students across the finish line of the pandemic,” Kemp said in his announcement.

This federal funding is separate from the $2,000 teacher pay raise the governor has said he will put in the state budget for teachers.

A report last week by the largest educator advocacy group in the state, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, found that more than 90% of teachers and administrators surveyed last fall saw a shortage in substitute teachers and bus drivers. The report notes that state funding for substitute teachers and busing has not kept up with costs.

Kemp is underfunding the state school funding formula, which calculates that they should be getting $383 million more. The Associated Press reported this week that Kemp plans to ask lawmakers to budget the full amount. The pay raise and full funding for Georgia’s Quality Basic Education funding formula would add $844 million to the state budget, the AP reported.