At a special called meeting of the Dawson County Board of Education held on Wednesday, March 31, board members unanimously approved state-funded bonuses of $1,000 and $2,000 for all of the school system’s staff members.
In his state of the state address several weeks ago, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said that the state would provide enough funding to pay school employees a $1,000 retention bonus. But according to Dawson County Superintendent Damon Gibbs, the Dawson County School System ended up receiving more funding than they expected and have been able to expand on the bonuses.
“Last week the Georgia State Board of Education approved this plan and we received our allotment at least on paper of what we will receive,” Gibbs said. “And we actually received more than what we anticipated; our original anticipation was $480,000 and we ended up with about $580,000.”
Board members approved $1,000 bonuses for all school employees but upped the bonus to $2,000 for employees that were employed by the school system prior to December 31, 2020.
According to Gibbs, the bonuses will be funded mainly out of the state money, with the remainder made up of CARES act funding.
“Our portion of funds will be paid solely through CARES II funding which are all federal dollars, and the state allocation that we will receive is through CARES II dollars too,” Gibbs said. “So no property tax nor our state allotted QBE funding will be used for the bonuses.”
Gibbs said that by providing this bonus to school employees, the board and school administration want to show their appreciation for teachers and staff that stuck with the system through a very hard year.
“Our staff pivoted last spring and found really unique ways to meet the needs of our kids,” Gibbs said. “We prepared and delivered thousands of meals, we got technology in the hands of any of our children that needed it, worked to ensure continuity of learning, faced countless difficult decisions and countless quarantines of our students. Our staff did such a great job working through all of those and providing what I consider to be a steady foundation and a consistent level of support for our community.”
Teachers and staff will receive the bonuses at the end of the month, Gibbs said.