SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Millions of dollars are headed to schools in the Coastal Empire.
U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff said this money was earmarked through the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress earlier this year.
One of the biggest amounts is the more than $95 million going to the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System.
While the district is excited about the money, it does come with some warnings from budget leaders within the district. Obviously, they are glad to be getting the help and support, but they say they have to be strategic in how they use it.
The district’s budget director thanked the board, superintendent and CFO during a school board meeting for the way they managed funds prior to the pandemic saying it truly saved them a catastrophe. She says the district is going to be OK, thanks to their planning.
While they don’t have a definite plan for the incoming $95 million, it’s something district leaders are discussing and planning now.
But the money does come with stipulations.
“The Cabinet will put that all together and make the decision on how to spend. Now 20 percent of that has to be spent on getting kids up, back up to the level they would have been had there not been a pandemic and also with being in-person. But there’s a 20 percent, so we have to spend it all very specific things so they are going to have to be very careful like they were on the first two to make sure we spend it where we’re supposed to and then we also have to be very careful because when that money runs out, if we go to have all these extra people in there, we’re not going to have it after 2024,” SCCPSS Budget Director Paige Cooley said.
Cooley went on also to say it’s important to remember that this money will not come to them again, so they will need to be careful on where and how they spend the money, since they won’t get again next school year.
In total, there are about 22 counties on the list from South and Coastal Georgia.
It’s something the senator called a significant investment in safe reopening, and school districts will really get to take ownership over.
“Those decisions are best made at the local level. So, local education leaders are going to have a lot of flexibility about how they use these resources. One of the things my team and I are doing is communicating regularly with those local school leaders so we have an idea of how those federal funds are being used, so we can help guide them on appropriate uses and make suggestions based on what we’re hearing from the community,” Sen. Ossoff said.
Every school district in the state will get some money from the plan. Sen. Ossoff says that totals about $4.5 billion.