Kemp allocates funds for school health care and COVID learning loss recovery by Rebecca Grapevine | Aug 24, 2022 | Capitol Beat News Service Kemp allocates funds for school health care and COVID learning loss recovery ATLANTA – Gov. Brian Kemp this week announced increased funding to address COVID learning loss and build school-based health centers in Georgia. On Monday, Kemp said $37.4 million will go to organizations helping Georgia students recover from COVID learning loss. On Tuesday, the Republican governor said he is allocating an additional $125 million to pay for school health centers. All told, the total is $162.4 million. The funding comes from federal COVID relief funds allocated to the state in 2020 and 2021. The funding for Georgia school-based health centers (SBHCs) will be administered by the Department of Education through a grant program, Kemp said. School-based health centers can provide a variety of services depending on a community’s need. These include providing primary and behavioral care, treating illnesses, and providing vision and dental services. “SBHCs have also been proven to help communities by reducing avoidable or unnecessary emergency room visits, increasing access to quality health-care options, [and] improving school attendance records…,” a statement from the governor’s office said. The $37.4 million in education funding will pay for tutoring to help students recover from COVID learning loss and help students with special needs. Recipients include the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Alliance of YMCAs, the Georgia Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, and the Georgia Public Library Service.A spokesman for Democrat Stacey Abrams – who is challenging Kemp for the governorship in November – criticized Kemp’s announcements. “Brian Kemp already cut nearly $1 billion from public education — and now wants credit for federal investment he repeatedly opposed,” said Alex Floyd, a spokesman for the campaign. Georgia has a historic budget surplus, in part due to federal COVID relief funds that flowed to the state government and partly due to record economic growth. Kemp plans to send $350 in cash assistance to low-income Georgians enrolled in state benefit programs like food assistance and Medicaid, he said last week. That will account for more than $1 billion of the state surplus. Kemp also announced he would spend $2 billion of the surplus on tax refunds and homeowner tax rebates if he is reelected in November. This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.