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Georgia Pre-K teachers to get 2 more $1,000 bonuses

ATLANTA — State-funded prekindergarten and child care teachers in Georgia will get two more rounds of $1,000 bonuses paid from federal coronavirus aid.

The Department of Early Care and Learning announced the plan Tuesday, with one bonus planned for early this year and one planned for June. 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. Jacobs told The Associated Press on Wednesday that all three rounds of bonuses are projected to cost about $100 million.

The state and public 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 3 or younger are eligible.

The state has also been using coronavirus aid to support private child care providers directly because of increased costs and decreased enrollments, providing $165 million so far in multiple rounds of payments.

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, about $9 an hour according to one recent study.

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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