Millions of Rescue Plan dollars will go to local school districts

Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 6:24 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - As part of the American Rescue Plan, some pretty big paychecks are on their way to our local school districts.

Columbia County is set to get $20 million. Aiken County would get $28 million. And Richmond County schools are getting close to $117 million.

With so much money flooding in, we wanted to know how the counties plan to spend it.

The bill gives significantly more money to our schools than the prior packages in CARES Acts 1 and 2.

Our districts tell us they’re still in the planning stages, but they have big ideas on how to use this money in ways that could help our kids for decades to come.

Only a year ago, many of our schools were in the face of major cutbacks.

“Many people don’t remember that last year, at about this time, our budgets got cut by quite significantly. 11 percent. And so, in a district like ours, that was $15 million,” Columbia County School Superintendent Dr. Sandra Carraway explained.

But now there’s hope for our schools as they try and navigate their way out of the pandemic.

Over in Aiken County, the district says they plan to use some of the money to pay teachers working over the summer.

Though it varies by staff member, the pay is about $10 more an hour than what they normally pay.

Columbia County says you might see some job postings from the funding too.

“We will hire additional personnel. Personnel so that we can provide small group instruction. And individual remediation for students who, who we know have lost ground,” Carraway said.

20 percent of the funding the districts receive must be used on learning remediation like this.

Meanwhile, Richmond County says they’re still working to figure out where they’ll put their money towards but say some could go towards extended learning programs and PPE.

Columbia County also says they might use some of the money on their computer network, for things like the WiFi, databases, and more.

All that could run them $1.5 million, but Carraway says these types of investments could help their schools in the long run.

“Anytime you can improve their learning, that’s going to last a lifetime for them,” she said.

And you might be wondering why Richmond County received about five times more than Columbia County.

The bill gives priority to districts with students living in poverty.

According to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, 49 percent of Richmond County students are economically disadvantaged.

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