VALDOSTA – Coming off the week of elections, the Valdosta Board of Education swore in new board member Tia Heard. 

Heard won the District 1 special elections seat on the school board after Liz Shumphard resigned earlier this school year.

Valdosta Board of Education voted to make masks optional, effective immediately on all the district’s campuses.

The school board voted 6-2 in a vote to relax the district's mask mandate.

Valdosta City Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Cason said, "I feel that it is time with the district's COVID case numbers trending downward. However, we may see an increase in quarantines due to this change in mandate."

The board voted to give teachers, staff, parents and students the option to wear masks due to the district's downward trending COVID cases.

Parents spoke during the public hearing portion of the board meeting in favor and against the school board decision.

Andy Gibbs, parent, thanked the board for making the decision to make masks optional for the students.

Miss Phillips, parent of an asthmatic child, said she is now concerned for the safety of her child due to the masks being optional across the district.

Cason thanked the parents, students and staff for trusting the board to make the difficult decisions the last two school years.

A woman said older residents should not have to pay school taxes since they have no children in school.

Sandra Jones, a Lowndes County resident, shared her concerns with the school board.

“We have seniors in Lowndes County that are having difficulties with purchasing medication, food and other necessary things. We ask you to consider these hardships and work together to come up with a solution,” she said.

Jones said the board should consider meeting with the Lowndes County school board and county commissioners to reduce the tax for retired residents 65 and older, due to their lack of income.

In August, the Valdosta Board of Education approved reducing the millage rate from 16.191 to 16.318 this year, a difference of 0.127 mills.

The board recognized the three-time “Big 5” seventh-grade middle school football champions and the historic Valdosta High volleyball team.

VHS Volleyball hosted the Georgia High School Athletics playoffs for the first time this year.

Reginald Mitchell, athletics director, presented VHS Volleyball Head Coach Anna McCall with a plaque for “100 Wins.”

There was no information shared regarding the completion of the superintendent’s evaluation during the board meeting.

The Valdosta Board of Education will not have a work session this month due to Thanksgiving break, which will occur Nov. 22-26.

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