Metro schools to receive emergency federal funds

Metro Atlanta school districts will receive millions in emergency federal funds over the next couple of months to help with their budgets.

Cobb County Schools superintendent Fred Sanderson said he will recommend the district use Cobb's share of the money -- $20 million -- to restore teacher salary cuts and two of the five furlough days Cobb put in place to help with its budget shortfall.

Fulton County’s allocation will be about $16 million, said district spokeswoman Allison Toller. She said Fulton schools superintendent Cindy Loe and the school board will discuss how to use the money at a board meeting Sept. 13.

“There is a possibility they will hold off making a final decision for a little while because there are real concerns that as we move into this school year, we’ll face further budget cuts because of a loss in state and local revenues,” Toller said.

Gwinnett County public schools will receive $30.2 million, said district spokeswoman Sloan Roach. The money will offset the loss of federal stimulus funding that will disappear after this year, Roach said. That money was used to preserve jobs in the Title I -- a program that serves disadvantage schoolchildren -- and special-needs areas.

DeKalb school board chairman Tom Bowen said the district has not decided how it will spend the $18.3 million it is receiving.

The money is part of a $26 billion fund recently approved by Congress to help teachers and other public employees nationwide keep their jobs. The law will send more than $550 million to Georgia.

Half the money will be distributed in September and half in October.

Sanderson, the superintendent in Cobb, said the district has a great deal of flexibility in how the money can be used and he will make the recommendation at the board’s  Sept. 8 work session.

Sanderson said the one-time windfall should not be used for recurring expenses, such as hiring additional staff, because the money will not be available in next year’s budget.