Kemp steers more federal dollars toward learning loss

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Funds would help Georgia students with special needs and in preschool and after-school programs

Students with disabilities and children in preschool are among the latest Georgia beneficiaries from federal education pandemic relief funds distributed by Gov. Brian Kemp.

Kemp’s office announced the $37.4 million distribution from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund on Monday.

The recipients:

  • Department of Early Care and Learning: up to $12 million
  • The Georgia Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs: $12 million
  • Georgia Department of Education: $9.1 million
  • Georgia Public Library Services: $2.3 million
  • Georgia Alliance of YMCAs: $2 million

The grants are intended to address pandemic-related learning loss with tutoring and resource acquisition.

For instance, more than two-thirds of the state education department’s allotment will help special needs teachers and paraprofessionals purchase materials. Nearly $1 million more will pay for equipment at the state-run schools for students with vision or hearing loss, and $1.7 million is for testing of hearing and vision loss among children who went unscreened during the pandemic.

The money comes from congressional appropriations starting in December 2020 to help schools cope with COVID-19. Georgia school districts were allotted over $6 billion and Kemp, like other governors, was given a discretionary fund that still contains $59.7 million, according to his office.

Kemp has called the federal relief money wasteful, but the Republican has been touting his use of Georgia’s allocation as he campaigns for re-election against Democrat Stacey Abrams.

In early August, he announced another $240 million in the federal pass-through money would go toward high-speed internet in rural Georgia. Last month, he announced $125 grants to teachers and other school personnel to buy supplies. Those grants were a repeat of teacher grants that were part of a $47 million disbursal early this year.