January 21, 2021 –The Georgia Department of Education is using a portion of its federal stimulus funding to offset state cuts to Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS) programs, and to offset funding local school districts provided to private/independent schools through the equitable services provision of the CARES Act, the first federal stimulus bill.
The allocations of $6,115,272 to GNETS programs and $14,605,294 to school districts come from the state set-aside portion of the $457 million Georgia received through the initial CARES Act.
“We are committed to using the funding we receive from the federal government to directly support local school districts and benefit students," State School Superintendent Richard Woods said. “These two allocations will ensure that GNETS programs have the resources they need to support students with disabilities, and that school districts are able to take advantage of their full CARES Act allocations."
GNETS programs, which provide educational and therapeutic support services to students, received a 10 percent reduction in state funding as a result of decreased revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. The $6 million allocation of CARES funding will offset the reduction and allow the programs to continue operating at their current levels.
Additionally, some school districts were required under the equitable services provision of the first CARES Act to provide part of the funds they received to private/independent schools in their geographic area. This $14 million will offset those funds, effectively allowing districts to use their full CARES Act allocation. This is the second time GaDOE has provided funds to make districts whole after a portion of their CARES Act funds were directed to private/independent schools through equitable services; the first allocation was made in July 2020.
In addition to the allocations made today, GaDOE has used its state set-aside portion of the initial CARES Act funding to purchase mobile devices for internet connectivity, offset state funding reductions to Regional Educational Service Agencies, fund CTAE and agricultural education, provide funding to school districts for special education services, and more.
The state has also received an allocation through the second federal stimulus of more than $1.8 billion, $1.7 billion of which will be allocated directly to school districts. GaDOE will use the state set-aside portion of the CARES 2 stimulus to provide bonus payments for teachers and school staff and address other statewide needs.