Governor Diverts COVID Relief Funds to Grant Every Teacher $125 For Supplies

Money can be used by teachers and staff members providing instructional & supportive services for class supplies and products to mitigate COVID spread

Ola High Spanish teacher Dorcas Acosta, left, speaks with Gov. Brian Kemp and First Lady Marty Kemp in her classroom. (Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder)

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Georgia teachers will soon be heading back to their classrooms with some extra cash for supplies.

Gov. Brian Kemp visited Ola High School in Henry County Friday to announce a $125 grant using his office’s share of COVID-19 federal relief funds for full-time public school teachers and staff members who provide instructional and supportive services to students on a daily basis.

Kemp told Ola teachers and faculty he hopes the funds will help out in the first school year since the pandemic not affected by distanced or remote learning.

“We hope this $125 back-to-school supply supplement will aid in these efforts and help us close the learning loss gap caused by the pandemic,” he said. “When it comes to protecting our children and their bright futures, we will not quit or slow down. That work will continue well into the new school year and those that follow.”

The money can be used for classroom materials and supplies or for products to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

During a brief classroom tour, Ola High Spanish teacher Dorcas Acosta told Kemp she already has plans for some of the money.

“I have my eye on these great manipulatives for the classroom with little questions on these boxes, kind of impromptu questions in Spanish, which gets them ready for real world impromptu questions,” said Acosta, who is also Ola’s teacher of the year. “So, it’s all about their little secret weapon and being globally competent and culturally aware. That’s what I’m excited to do with it.”

Kemp announced a similar $125 disbursement using federal COVID-19 aid in January. The latest installment will work the same way, and teachers will receive a notification about the money through the education funding platform ClassWallet in the coming days, the governor’s office said.

Kemp’s office did not release the cost of the payments, but the previous $125 grants amounted to just over $15 million.

The money for both sets of payments came from the federal government’s Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund. Kemp’s office said $59.7 million remains in the fund, and more awards are set to be announced in the coming months.

Kemp is locked in a fierce election rematch with Democrat Stacey Abrams, who has criticized Kemp’s focus on controlling classroom content as wrongheaded and called for further pay raises for educators beyond the $5,000 achieved during Kemp’s term. Abrams’ education platform calls for an $11,000 increase in average teacher salary, which she says would put Georgia in the top ten states for best teacher pay.

An 11Alive poll of 950 Georgia adults conducted July 21 through 24 had Kemp and Abrams in a virtual tie – Kemp had 45% of the vote to Abrams’ 44%.

But an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll among 902 likely Georgia voters conducted July 14 through 22 gave Kemp a bigger lead, 48% to 43%.

Georgia Recorder is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Georgia Recorder maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor John McCosh for questions: info@georgiarecorder.com. Follow Georgia Recorder on Facebook and Twitter.

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