VALDOSTA -- The Lowndes County Board of Education rejected the Valdosta City School's proposal of a one-time payment of $62,500 from ad valorem taxes.

Superintendent Steve Smith said the proposal was unreasonable because the local tax burden for the 240 island students totals $371,832. That is about $1.9 million during the course of 12 years after anticipated tax revenues and Valdosta City School's offer.

Instead, the board approved allowing the currently enrolled students and siblings of the currently enrolled students who reside in the islands that will be annexed Aug. 1 to attend Lowndes County Schools for the next school year tuition free.

Transportation will be provided for the students, Smith said.

However, if the oldest child in the family will be entering pre-K next school year and is a student who resides in the islands that will be annexed, he or she will have to attend the city schools, the board said.

The board also agreed to ask the Valdosta City School Board to submit another proposal.

"We're not asking to get rich; we're just asking to survive," Smith said. "What has been offered to us is not fair."

The board decided a decision will be made about the subsequent school years by Jan. 1, 2006.

The board said it needs notification by parents of intention to attend Lowndes County Schools by June 15.

A date for a public meeting concerning island students was set for 7 p.m. May 23 in the Lowndes High School Lecture Hall.

In other business, the board approved leasing four new school buses, increasing school meal prices and postponed the second reading of the policy manual to the June 7 work session meeting.

About 56 students in various extra curricular activities were also honored by the board for outstanding achievements.

To contact reporter Brianne Sweetland, please call (229) 244-3400, ext. 245.

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