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What Gov. Kemp plans for schools in budget proposal
New governor wants to hike teacher pay, spend funds on security, charter schools
Governor-Elect Brian Kemps speaks to a crowd during a Georgians First pre-inaguration celebration on Friday, Jan. 11, 2019 at the Gainesville Civic Center. - photo by Austin Steele

Permanent pay increases for Georgia school teachers are just one of several items new Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has proposed in a general fund budget to support public education across the state for the 2020 fiscal year that begins July 1.

During the gubernatorial race last fall, Kemp promised certified teachers a $5,000 pay raise.

In his budget proposal released this month, however, Kemp proposed a $3,000 increase as a “down payment” on his campaign promise.

The Georgia Department of Education survey published in 2016 reported that 44 percent of new teacher hires in the state leave within five years, and the pay increases are intended to counter this trend.

Under Kemp’s plan, all state employees would be eligible for a 2 percent merit increase, bringing the cost of all wage and salary increases to about $600 million, according to an analysis by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute in Atlanta.

Kemp is also pushing for more than $8 million in additional funding for mental health counseling in high schools.

School security is also a centerpiece of Kemp’s education plan.

He wants to provide $30,000 for school security improvements to each school in Georgia.

Last year, following a deadly shooting at a high school in Florida, state lawmakers allocated funding for school districts to improve safety on campuses. Hall County received $215,000, which it used to convert the district’s bus radios to digital and expand communications coverage to 99 percent of the county.

And Gainesville City Schools received about $81,000 from the state.

 Kemp’s proposed budget totals $27.5 billion.

The GBPI reports that about 95 percent of the new spending Kemp is proposing will go toward pay raises for teachers and state employees, growing enrollment in Georgia’s public schools and universities, baseline Medicaid expenses, and adjustments for the Teacher Retirement System.

Gov. Brian Kemp’s proposed education spending:

 $3,000 raises for teachers

$92.1 million midterm adjustment to cover increased enrollment in public K-12 and state charter schools

$68.8 million to provide a one-time $30,000 school security grants to 2,294 Georgia public schools

$39.3 million in increased funding for state charter schools

$3.6 million for growth in dual enrollment programs

Source: Georgia Budget and Policy Institute