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Georgia pre-kindergarten teachers to get second $1,000 bonus

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ATLANTA (AP) — State-funded prekindergarten and child care teachers in Georgia will get a second round of $1,000 bonuses paid from federal coronavirus aid.

The Department of Early Care and Learning announced the plan Tuesday. Commissioner Amy Jacobs in a statement called the payments “a small yet significant way to recognize the dedication and hard work shown during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

An earlier round of bonuses last year paid a total of $33.4 million to more than 33,000 teachers statewide. However, the department had set aside $65 million for payments.

The state and university system made $1,000 bonus payments to K-12 and university employees last year, also using federal aid.

In addition to the roughly 3,800 prekindergarten teachers and assistant teachers in Georgia's public schools getting the bonuses, an equal number of prekindergarten teachers and assistants in private schools will get the money. A much larger number of teachers of children between birth and three years old are eligible.

The state has also been using coronavirus aid to support private child care providers directly because of increased costs and decreased enrollments.

Prekindergarten teachers with a bachelor's degree in Georgia have starting salaries above $35,000, but assistant teachers and those who care for younger children make much less.

Some teachers who get the bonuses work in public schools, which means they will be getting more money when teachers of older children are not. However, lawmakers are likely to take up Gov. Brian Kemp's proposal to permanently increase pay for K-12 teachers when they meet beginning Monday.

The department will take applications for the money from Jan. 18 to Feb. 18.

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