College Park mayor worries about fair split of COVID-19 school funds

College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom sent a letter to the Fulton school board’s President Julia Bernath Monday asking the district to commit 75% of the $18.3 million to Title I schools.
College Park Mayor Bianca Motley Broom sent a letter to the Fulton school board’s President Julia Bernath Monday asking the district to commit 75% of the $18.3 million to Title I schools.

Credit: Alyssa Pointer, alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer, alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

The mayor of College Park is worried that disadvantaged students won’t see a direct benefit from the COVID-19 relief funds Fulton County Schools received from the federal government.

Mayor Bianca Motley Broom sent a letter to the Fulton school board’s President Julia Bernath on Monday asking the district to commit 75% of the $18.3 million to Title I schools.

The federal Title I program provides funding for low-income students. The district website shows the majority of its Title I schools are in the poorer, southern part of the county.

Georgia schools districts were awarded more than $400 million as part of the federal CARES Act, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in early May. When it came time dole out the emergency money, officials used the existing Title I formula to determine how much CARES Act money each district received. That's how Fulton ended up with $18.3 million to use on expenses related to the pandemic.


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Fulton schools officials have said they plan to use the money to offset the revenue reductions expected in the wake of the virus.

If Title I students earned the district that money, Motley Broom said those schools should see a direct cut.

“It is unconscionable Title I students in College Park and elsewhere in Fulton County would not see direct CARES Act funding in their schools when they already face so many challenges,” she wrote in her letter.

A district spokesman said neither Bernath nor the district’s Title I coordinator were available for an interview.

The spokesman did say in a prepared statement: “Fulton County Schools appreciate the concerns expressed by Mayor Motley Broom and value our partnership with the city of College Park. We will provide a response directly to her as soon as possible. As well, recommendations from staff will be considered by the Board regarding use of CARES Act funds at the June 9th Board meeting.”


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According to the Fulton schools website: All five of its Title I high schools are in southern Fulton, seven of the 11 Title I middle schools are in the south part of the county and 24 of the 32 elementary schools are on the Southside.

The website shows that there are 13 Title I schools in College Park, home to 16,000 residents. According to U.S. Census data, College Park's median household income of $32,000 is half of the Fulton-wide average of $64,000.

“Families who are already facing conditions that render them more unstable are only going to be further (hurt) by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Motley Broom said.

The June 9 school board meeting is slated to begin at 12:30 p.m. and is usually streamed live online.


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