Wednesday, October 5 2022

VALDOSTA – Schools in the city of Valdosta are reducing their mileage rate. A move that should see most homeowners paying roughly the same property taxes as last year, school officials say.

The decision to approve the mileage rate going from 16.318 to 15.787 was made at the Valdosta school board meeting on Tuesday, August 16.

Dr. Alvin Hudson, deputy superintendent of schools for the city, said the school system can accept the mileage reduction rate while funding its 2022 budget.

“With the rollback rate, that equates to no tax increase from the Valdosta Board of Education,” Hudson said. “Any tax increases for a property owner will be due to the reassessment of their existing property by the tax accessor, but have nothing to do with the Valdosta school board.”

A good start

VCS Superintendent Dr. Todd Cason provided an assessment of the school opening on Monday, August 8.

Cason said: “The start of the school year has been positive. We are sure that the number will increase and that students will come. We are on track for a productive school year.

Currently, VCS has 8,119 students, down 14 from the 8,133 in the previous school year. However, Valdosta High School kept the same number of students at 2,168, according to back-to-school information.

Homeless students regarding

Board member David Gilyard asked about the homeless student population as homelessness continues to rise in Valdosta and Lowndes County.

“Unfortunately, many of our homeless students live in extended-stay hotels. Last year, over 200 homeless students were scheduled to be evicted,” Cason said. “After the first 10 days of school, we receive accurate information on the homeless student population.”

VCS has seven social workers in 10 schools in the district. Social workers provide their caseloads with family-specific support and funding such as uniforms, living conditions, transportation, etc.

Gilyard suggested hiring additional social workers to minimize the workload in schools. Cason responded within his administration that the goal was to hire more social workers.

Over the past eight years, the district has hired five additional social workers to balance the workload of the two existing social workers, according to Cason.

school safety

Following threats of violence from the school made on social media on Tuesday evening, school officials and law enforcement are more vigilant.

The board hosted a video presentation at Tuesday’s board meeting with Gabriel Technologies, Terry DiVittorio.

The Gabriel System is an active shooter, mass causal management system that has been schools, entertainment venues, and houses of worship for three years.

DiVittorio said, “The system can lessen the impact or eliminate schools of situations.” He continued, “the system has a database of weapons and a match would trigger the system automatically.”

The board expressed concern that the system could not detect concealed weapons, only visible weapons. There will be further discussions about whether the system will be used in schools across the city, school officials said.

The next meeting of the Valdosta school board is scheduled for 7 p.m., August 30, at the central office.

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