ATLANTA — Georgia’s governor announced Tuesday his plan to restore hundreds of millions of dollars to school budgets cut because of the pandemic.
Gov. Brian Kemp’s education plan includes $1,000 bonuses for teachers. But it comes as many teachers are focused most on health and safety in their classrooms.
“This year my budget proposal includes $647 million to restore funding to school systems across our state.”
Kemp, surrounded by general assembly leaders, announced a plan to restore much of the funding that was cut from the state’s education budget due to the pandemic.
His Teacher Pipeline Plan would also address teacher shortages by easing the path for veterans to teach, partnering with historically black colleges and allowing retired teachers to return to the classroom in high-need areas.
“Are there any retired educators who are willing to return to the classroom knowing that it’s not safe to do so at this time?” asked Lisa Morgan, president of the Georgia Association of Educators.
Kemp’s education plan comes as teachers are worried first and foremost about safety. Three Cobb County educators have died since Christmas from COVID-19.
Superintendents of nearly a dozen school districts sent a letter to Kemp last week asking that teachers be given the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions, and they cannot be separated,” Morgan said.
“Since Day 1, I’ve had a strong commitment to Georgia’s teachers and now more than ever I know that we have to build on that commitment,” Kemp said.
The governor’s proposed budget also adds back about $500 million for next year, altogether restoring more than $1.2 billion that had to be cut because of the COVID-19 emergency.
The state’s school superintendent Richard Woods released a statement about the governor’s plan, giving his support:
“I strongly support the Teacher Pipeline legislative package just announced by Governor Brian Kemp, which would add the Georgia Teacher of the Year as an ex-officio member of the State Board of Education, allow retired teachers to return to the classroom in high-need areas, and more. This bill addresses several of my top legislative priorities for the year, and demonstrates the Governor’s continued commitment to public schools. As we cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis as a state, it is more important than ever that we elevate the teaching profession and improve our recruitment and retention of excellent teachers.”
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