Georgia replaces cash public schools gave to private schools

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ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Department of Education will give money to public school districts to help repay amounts that those districts have given to private schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state Board of Education voted Thursday to give Georgia's 180 local school districts an additional $15.8 million from what was originally a $457 million pot of federal money. After the disbursement, the state will have $19.7 million in coronavirus relief funds remaining. Of that amount, $14 million is to replace money shared with 260 private schools statewide.

The U.S. Department of Education has directed that local public schools must share their federal money with private schools. That's prompted a lot of pushback from some public school advocates. California, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico and Wisconsin, plus the District of Columbia, sued the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos earlier this month arguing DeVos' interpretation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was illegal. The law set guidelines on how to distributed $13.2 billion to schools nationwide along the lines of federal Title I money earmarked for schools with large numbers of students from low-income families.

DeVos argues the aid is meant to support all students.

A total of 66 Georgia districts will be reimbursed. Districts getting the most money back include $2 million to DeKalb County, $1.9 million to Fulton County, $1.2 million to Atlanta, $906,000 to Savannah-Chatham County and $664,000 to Richmond County. At least two districts — Terrell County and Rabun County, had lost more than 20% of their original CARES Act allocation.

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