(The Center Square) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a measure Tuesday that boosts funding for charter schools in the state.
Senate Bill 59 increases charter school allocations by about $100 per student. It also secures an equal portion of federal funding for local charter schools and gives teachers and staff more access to the State Health Plan.
"The bill will allow students to get the resources they need to be successful in the classroom and will protect parents by ensuring that every resource their student is entitled to receive," Kemp said Tuesday during a bill signing at Kennesaw State University coinciding with Teacher Appreciation Week.
Old state law gave state and local charter school employees only one chance to sign up for the state-covered health coverage during the first year of the school's operation. The new law requires more than one enrollment period. The provision is aimed at improving staff recruitment and retention.
Charter schools also will receive $106 more per pupil, starting in fiscal year 2023 under the new law, officials said. The measure will take effect July 1.
School-choice advocates said the measure will ensure equitable funding and resources, which are more crucial than ever during the pandemic, for Georgia's 70,000 public charter school students.
“We're thankful for Gov. Brian Kemp’s continued commitment to Georgia’s public charter school students,” Georgia Charter Schools Association President and CEO Tony Roberts said in a statement. “Under the newly signed law, public charter schools are one step closer to receiving the equitable funding and resources they deserve. The new law will also allow a greater number of charter school educators to receive their insurance through Georgia’s state health plan.”
Kemp also signed Senate Bill 88 into law Tuesday. The new law allows Georgia's Teacher of the Year to serve as an ex-officio member of the State Board of Education. It authorizes alternative certification programs so that qualified veterans can teach and provides additional coaching and mentoring for new and current teachers.
"We are fast approaching our return to normal here in the Peach State, and I know that working together, we can ensure Georgia's best and brightest days are still ahead," Kemp said. "Today sends a message that those brighter, more prosperous days start with putting our students and our educators first."