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Decatur County School System expected to receive $2 million in Coronavirus federal aid

The Decatur County School System is expected to receive roughly $2 million of the $411 million Coronavirus federal aid being distributed to Georgia schools.

The funds come from the almost $457 million approved for Georgia public schools as part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

For Decatur County schools, the money will help offset deductions to the state Board of Education’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, according to Superintendent Tim Cochran, who is preparing for around a 14 percent trim, or $4.2 million for Decatur County.

“We have already trimmed some positions this year due to the charter school,” said Cochran. “We’ve also instituted a hiring and spending freeze.”

Cochran believes the combination of the school system’s already lean operation strategy and the federal aid will keep the budget cuts from having a large effect on our schools going forward. Some school systems in Georgia are preparing for furlough days and shortened work weeks in addition to program impacts.

“I am very optimistic we are not going to have furlough days,” said Cochran. “That 14 percent is a planning figure—it could be 12 percent, or it could be 16 percent. We don’t know yet. I am optimistic because we are very frugal with what we do. Unfortunately, the way we are budgeting isn’t the way we want to do it.”

The majority of Georgia’s $457 million share from the CARES Act will be spread out among the nearly 200 county and city public school districts as well as some charter schools. Around $45 million will be earmarked for emergency use.

Local allocations range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for smaller school districts up to more than $30 million each for Gwinnett and DeKalb county school districts.

“Every district is going to be different, but the 14 percent deduction is statewide across the board,” said Cochran.

Students in Decatur County are officially scheduled to return from summer break on Aug. 5.