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TCSS to get $29.1 M from American Rescue Plan

The Troup County School System will receive $29.1 million via the American Rescue Plan Act, part of $3.8 billion the Georgia public schools are receiving. 

School districts are required to set aside at least 20 percent of the funds to address student learning loss, according to the Georgia Department of Education. 

The remaining funds are flexible and can be used to support at-risk student populations, distance/remote learning, school meals, mental and physical health, supplemental learning and addressing learning loss, facilities and equipment, continuity of core staff and services, and more. 

Scott Burckbuchler, chief financial officer with the Troup County School System, said the school system is finalizing its budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, which will include the $12,997,534 TCSS received in CARES II funding. 

Since the American Rescue Plan Act funding was recently announced, TCSS is still working on a formalized plan for that funding, which specifically totals $29,160,615.

“From my CFO perspective, I’ve been trying to focus CARES II in fiscal year 2021-2022 or the next fiscal year,” Burckbuchler said. “In the back of my mind, with the ARP money, use that the following year, but there’ll be some overlap of fiscal years. That’s how I’ve been thinking.”

Burckbuchler noted that these funds are being used to address learning loss through measures such as an expanded summer school program, which was discussed at last month’s board meeting. 

It’s also been budgeted to address antimicrobial treatments at schools, hiring additional nurses, purchasing Chromebooks and other COVID-19 related needs.

However, Burckbuchler said TCSS has to get each of its purchases approved, and that the school system is actually reimbursed after submitting a budget to the state.

“It’s not as if they send you a $29 million check and you know you can have at it,” he said. “That’s not the way the process goes at all.”

This is the third time schools across the country have received federal aid. Troup County received $3,019,886 in the first CARES funding package, which was announced in May 2020.

The Georgia Department of Education is highlighting use of the American Rescue Plan funding to address learning loss, which has been an issue at schools across the country, including Georgia. TCSS saw many full-time virtual students struggle during the first semester and implemented several initiatives to address that concern.

“These funds will help Georgia schools address learning loss and ensure the safety of students, staff, and families,” State School Superintendent Richard Woods in a press release. “I encourage all school districts to take advantage of these resources to continue or expand safe in-person learning options for students.”