Kemp gives teachers help buying classroom supplies

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

$125 grants for teachers, support staff come from federal pandemic relief funds

Georgia public school teachers will get a little help from the state this fall to pay for classroom supplies.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced the $125 grants on Friday. They will work in the same way as the same-sized grants he gave teachers last spring, using his office’s portion of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

“I just want to tell you that we are celebrating as you prepare for the new school year, and we just want to thank our teachers and all the support staff,” Kemp said at Ola High School in McDonough during a visit with his wife, Marty.

Their oldest daughter is a first grade teacher, and he said he knows how expensive it can be to prepare a classroom, having helped her with the task when she did it for the first time last summer.

“So I hope that this small contribution will help defray the cost and aid in efforts to close the learning gap caused by the pandemic,” he said.

Full-time public school teachers and staff who provide daily “instructional and supportive” services will get a message from a platform called ClassWallet soon about how to access the money.

Kemp has $59.7 million left in his federal educational relief fund. His office didn’t release the total cost of this new distribution, but the allocation for the same grant last spring totaled $15.4 million.

Kemp, a Republican, locked in a tight reelection campaign against Democrat Stacey Abrams, has targeted support from teachers to remain in office. In May, he signed a $30.2 billion state spending plan that includes a $2,000 pay raise for teachers, completing a 2018 campaign pledge to raise their pay by $5,000.

Abrams spokesman Alex Floyd cast the new grants as a campaign ploy.

“Brian Kemp is interested in helping his campaign — not helping teachers who have already had to shell out money for classroom supplies this year,” Floyd said. He added that Abrams has committed to raising teacher pay even more, having pledged in the spring to increase it by $11,000.

Staff writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this article