CUMMING, Ga. — The Forsyth County School system is using its third round of federal stimulus money to provide a bonus to employees, support the summer school program and upgrade air quality systems at two elementary schools.
“We [expect to receive] about $13 million,” said Larry Hammel, chief financial officer for the district. “That's nothing like the $242 million Gwinnett County is going to get, but it is the money we're going to get.”
In total, Forsyth County Schools has received $20.5 million through three rounds of education stimulus funding since last summer.
During a meeting of the Forsyth County School board earlier this month, Hammel said $7 million of the expected $13 million will be used to provide a $1,000 bonus for employees. The bonus will supplement the $1,000 stipend already allocated by the state for school staff for next year.
Hammel said providing a $2,000 bonus for employees between the two “pots” of money was important. Cuts in state funding last year meant staff did not get raises this year.
“And so now to enter [the new fiscal year] and give all of our employees $2,000 I know will be very well received in our school system and our community,” Hammel said.
The stimulus funds will also help support the summer school program primarily by providing door-to-door bus transportation for students. Hammel said transportation issues have historically been a barrier for many students participating in summer school.
“So [this summer] students who are selected for the summer program will be able to be picked up from a bus stop, and brought to the site school,” Hammel said.
Forsyth County Schools is offering a K-12 summer school which will identify students who have had learning loss or who are in need of grade recovery. Hammel said parents will be notified in the coming weeks of their child’s status and plans for summer school.
“[Participation] will be based on invitation,” Hammel said. “We have to use consistent criteria across the district…and will look at quantifiable data.”
He said he hopes the model created this year in summer school can be used moving forward, with the goal of providing additional funding to schools to develop more personalized systems for the students.
Stimulus funds will be used this summer for bus drivers, as well as to help fund salaries for summer school teachers.
Another project set for funding through the third round of stimulus is providing energy upgrades to Sharon and Shiloh Point elementary schools. Hammel said these two schools are the last two in the district still in need of an “energy recovery unit” that provides optimal air quality.
“It provides a [consistent] dewpoint in the building to control humidity and temperature, prevents mold from growing…and also saves energy,” Hammel said.
The system will also help as schools deal with the challenges of keeping schools safe and clean in a COVID-19 environment, he said.