ATLANTA — Responding to world events that have increased gas nationally, Georgia's state school superintendent called on the federal government to allow schools to cover transportation costs for their students as fuel prices rise.
Richard Woods, State School Superintendent, got a response from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) Thursday, answering his question.
The statement from USDE said,
"Supporting or providing transportation services for students is an allowable use of funds under ESSER and GEER as long as the need is related to COVID-19 (e.g., to support daily attendance at school to address the impact of lost instructional time) and the cost is reasonable and necessary."
This would mean yes, schools are permitted to use the funds for transportation costs, as long as schools can claim that they are using the funds due to COVID-related issues.
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Woods' issued his statement following the ban on Russian oil imports by President Joe Biden last Tuesday.
He posted his statement on the state education department's website, saying,
“It is absolutely essential that we keep schools open and learning going for our students. That’s why I called on the U.S. Department of Education to ensure schools could use ESSER funds to keep buses rolling so in-person learning could continue. We know that in-person instruction is most effective for the vast majority of our students, and the ability to use existing ESSER funds to meet rising fuel costs will allow our school districts to continue providing learning opportunities and supporting students’ academic recovery.”
The entire state should see some relief at the pump once Gov. Brian Kemp signs a bill to suspend the state's gas tax.
Georgia Senate passed the bill Thursday in a 55-0 vote and has already passed the House.
"On behalf of 11 million Georgians, thank you," Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the president of the Senate, said after the bill passed.
The move would save Georgians the current tax rate of about 29 cents per gallon at the pump.