State preps to send Georgia schools $230 million for employee bonuses

The Georgia Department of Education said its preparing to send school districts across the state more than $230 million to be distributed as one-time "retention bonuses" for school employees. STEVE SCHAEFER/AJC FILE PHOTO
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The Georgia Department of Education said its preparing to send school districts across the state more than $230 million to be distributed as one-time "retention bonuses" for school employees. STEVE SCHAEFER/AJC FILE PHOTO

Credit: Steve Schaefer

Credit: Steve Schaefer

School systems across Georgia are expected to receive more than $230 million in the coming days to pass on to thousands of educators as one-time “retention bonuses.”

The bonuses, announced by Gov. Brian Kemp in January, won final state approval last week from the State Board of Education.

The state will use federal stimulus dollars to give special payments to more than 225,000 eligible full- and part-time teachers and other staffers. Full-time employees are slated to receive $1,000. Part-time workers will get about half that.

The bonuses “are meant to keep educators in the field so there continues to be a firm foundation when schools return to more normal operations when COVID-19 no longer negatively impacts schools,” according to state documents.

Matt Cardoza, a spokesman with the Georgia Department of Education, said money will be available to districts to begin the required budget steps “in the next few days.”

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators called the bonuses “well-deserved” in a recent report and said districts are required to pay employees by June 30.

Officials from Fulton County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools said employees should receive the payments in late April. A count provided by Cardoza of employees deemed eligible by the state includes more than 12,200 Fulton school employees and more than 8,000 in Atlanta.

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Both districts are considering proposals to expand the state’s eligibility criteria so that more of their workforce gets the payment.

The Fulton school board is expected to consider using some of its federal stimulus allocation to cover the additional cost of providing the bonuses to more employees. The proposal would go before the Fulton board on April 15.

The Atlanta school board would consider a similar plan on April 12.

It’s unclear exactly how much extra money the districts would have to contribute in order to pay out the bonuses to more employees.

Metro Atlanta school districts will receive the following amounts from the state to give as employee bonuses:

  • Atlanta Public Schools: $8,177,753
  • Clayton County Public Schools: $6,952,368
  • Cobb County Schools: $14,299,043
  • DeKalb County School District: $14,448,165
  • Fulton County Schools: $12,456,579
  • Gwinnett County Public Schools: $21,029,409