Georgia will provide a one-time, $1,000 bonus payment to every K-12 public school teacher and staff member in the state.
The bonus payments are intended for teachers, paraprofessionals, school counselors, school psychologists, school nurses, custodians, bus drivers, school nutrition staff, media specialists, clerical staff and administrative assistants, school principals, assistant principals, instructional coaches, therapists and other school-level staff members in the state’s K-12 schools.
Funds will be allocated to school districts and must be spent on the bonus payments. Superintendent Richard Woods will officially recommend the allocation for approval at the State Board of Education's Feb. 18 meeting.
“In a day and age where so much is thrown at those investing in our children on the front lines, the additional burdens of remote learning, social distancing, wearing a mask, adapting to the new normal — honestly made educating overwhelming,” Gov. Brian Kemp said in his State of the State address earlier this week.
“The great men and women running Georgia’s schools didn’t miss a beat,” Kemp added. “From principals, teachers, custodians, bus drivers and support staff on down, their actions have inspired us all.”
Woods praised teachers and staff for their “extraordinary” work over the past 10 months.
“At the onset of the pandemic, they essentially reinvented the educational delivery system in the space of a weekend,” he said. “Since then, (they) have continued to show up for their students, whether virtually or in-person. What we've asked of them has been far from easy, and we are providing these bonuses as a tangible gesture of our gratitude and respect for their work and sacrifices, and as a means of retaining these dedicated educators and support personnel who make educating our students possible.
“This is about restoring hope for our educational workforce,” Woods added. “During these unprecedented times, we must continue to invest in the people who directly serve students and make our education system run.”
The payments will be provided through two sources: approximately $60 million from the Governor's Office and approximately $180 million from the Georgia Department of Education's reserve portion of CARES 2 stimulus funds.
Bonus payments are not a required or specifically listed use of CARES 2 funds, but the U.S. Department of Education has verified that they are an allowable expenditure.
The GaDOE will provide additional details to school districts as they become available.