VALDOSTA -- The Valdosta City School System is looking for a way to offer its personnel the best in employee benefits at the lowest price.

Area insurance and employee benefits providers are encouraged to attend a one-hour session regarding this quest at 10 a.m. Monday in the Central Office located at 1204 Williams St.. During this meeting, representatives from the system's Finance and Employee Benefits departments will dispense requests for proposals relating to dental insurance, long-term disability, survivors benefits, life insurance and 403(b) coverages. State-governed health insurance and teacher retirement plans are excluded.

"We want to make sure we are offering our employees the best that's out there," said Jack Kent, director of finance. "This type of thing can have a huge affect on everyone involved, including taxpayers."

Present coverage, except 403(b), can be viewed by visiting the system's Web site at www.go and clicking on the central office and employee benefits links.

The Valdosta City School System's dental insurance plan is an optional program for employees paid for by those employees who choose to participate.

Kent said the Valdosta Board of Education does not contribute a dime to this program, which was developed a few years ago at the request of the system's employees.

"The plan favors families with small children who need orthodontics," he explained. "We need a plan with broader coverage. Hopefully, it would be cheaper."

The system's dental insurance plan is presently in the hands of David Sumner, who took over following the death of James Rainwater.

Since 1983, The Hartford, one of the nation's largest investment and insurance companies, has handled the Valdosta City School System's life insurance, long-term disability, and survivors benefits plans.

"We are not going to change the terms of these plans," Kent said. "We just want to know if we can get it any cheaper."

Finally, there's the 403(b), also known as Valdosta Retirement. Under this plan, employees set aside money for retirement on a pre-tax basis through a salary reduction agreement. Contributions and investment earnings in a 403(b) grow tax deferred until withdrawal, at which time they are taxed as ordinary income.

"We want to make sure our employees are getting the best return for their money," Kent said.

The present policy is with Travelers.

For information, contact Beverly Kay, employee benefits advisor, at 333-8500 or at

To contact reporter Jessica Pope, please call 244-3400, ext. 255.

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