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Troup County School System awaiting state funding decision

The Troup County School System received about $3.1 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but the superintendent is planning on holding on to funds until there are stable directives from the state.

TCSS Superintendent Brian Shumate said that last week the state directed all public agencies to prepare for a 14 percent cut in state funding. In terms of TCSS, the state funding in the 2019-2020 fiscal year was $67.7 million. According to Shumate, a 14 percent cut would reduce state funding by about $9.5 million to the school system.

He said the 14 percent number isn’t set in stone, and the school system is waiting for the Georgia legislature to reconvene in June.

“It’s going to be substantial,” Shumate said. “It’s just a matter of how much.”

The announcement of the 14 percent cut came from a memo sent by state House Appropriations Chair Terry England, Senate House Appropriations Chair Blake Tillery and Kelly Farr, director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget. The memo said no areas would be spared, including funding for education and public health.

“While the Great Recession of 2008 was considered then to be a ‘once in a lifetime’ event, our current situation will certainly overshadow it,” the memo says. “That is why this request is being made to all areas of the state budget with no exceptions.”

Before the state’s announcement, Shumate talked about wanting to implement an academic boost program for students in July to get a head start going into the next school year, but he said Tuesday that program isn’t like to happen. However, he said the district’s typical summer school program for remediation and credit recovery is still going to happen.

Additionally, he said the district will still be able to provide meals for students because additional federal reimbursements are available for that program.

The CARES Act was also meant to reimburse school districts for costs incurred due to COVID-19 that typically wouldn’t have happened. Shumate said the district may look into some expenses, but it’s more likely TCSS will hang on to that funding until he sees what lawmakers in Atlanta do.

Shumate said lawmakers said districts could use the CARES Act to sure up its budget if needed.

The superintendent said the district is planning for substantial cuts, and he’s thankful for a health fund reserve, but he knows it can’t be used forever.

“I’m sure we’re going to be looking at some more cuts in our budget, as well as dipping into reserves,” Shumate said.