VALDOSTA – The Valdosta Board of Education extended COVID-19 sick leave this week during its first meeting of 2021.

The board unanimously approved extending paid sick leave through June 30 for COVID-19-related issues.

The provision, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, was included in the first federal stimulus bill and required certain employers to provide their employees with 10 paid sick days related to the coronavirus.

However, the provision expired Dec. 31.

The second stimulus bill included an optional extension through June 30, which Valdosta School Superintendent Dr. Todd Cason and the board swiftly accepted.

“We want to do what we can to support our employees,” Cason said.

Cason presented the five-year facilities plan, which must be updated every five years, to the board. A facilities review was conducted virtually by a survey team comprised of superintendents from other districts.

Leonard McCoy, Georgia Department of Education facilities consultant, praised the system.

“It was observed by the team that the facilities of the Valdosta City Schools are less than 20 years old and obviously very well maintained. While it was a virtual tour, it was nevertheless apparent that the facilities are aesthetically appealing with the high school facility likely being a model of excellence for the state,” according to the submitted review.

Cason told the board the Georgia education department requires a resolution to be passed by the city board to adopt the new plan and receive the sum of more than $13 million.

“We have no major facility needs at this time except for, as you can (see) in the recommendation, it is recommended the board continue to assess the need for a sixth elementary school,” Cason said.

While the vote motion was initially approved and seconded, board member Warren Lee said the item should be further discussed before voting.

“I do not feel I have enough information or knowledge at this time to approve this plan,” Lee said. “It looks like this has been in progress for a while and this superintendent and board, not all but some, continue to not do business in the way we should do business. This is a new year and I just refuse to continue doing business halfway as I've done in the past.”

As the board doesn't have to make a decision on the plan until March, board member Trey Sherwood rescinded his initial motion to move forward and the board unanimously tabled the item.

As is standard protocol for the first meeting of the year, the board voted for its chairman and vice chairman for the coming year. The board unanimously voted for Stacy Bush as chairman and Tyra Howard as vice chair.

The Valdosta Board of Education will hold a work session Jan. 26. All meetings are live streamed on the system's Facebook page. 

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