City Schools Retreat: Training, VHS demolition, strategic updates top meeting

Jan. 30—VALDOSTA — City school board members received training, reviewed updates on teaching, learning and safety, and looked at the scheduled demolition of the old Valdosta High School building Friday, Jan. 27, during the data retreat.

Valdosta Board of Education received training from the Georgia School Board Association, along with the updates.

Dr. David Cole, teaching and learning assistant superintendent, presented information about the Valdosta City Schools Strategic Plan-Vision 2026.

Dr. Joyce Dean, director of testing, evaluation, and digital learning, and April Doyle, director of K-12 ELA and literacy, presented information for the strategic plan-vision.

Doyle and Cole reassured the board that student test scores are reviewed at least three times throughout the year. An individual plan is developed based on scores to determine what is or is not working during instruction.

Dr. Alvin Hudson, interim city schools superintendent, said, "We all know that we are not satisfied with our current test scores; however, we have a team (teaching and learning) in place that is prepared and dedicated to not only help our students reach the state-level requirements but surpass that goal."

Kaci Nobles, facilities and maintenance director, shared the upcoming plans for facilities and maintenance in the district.

Nobles said the demolition of the old Valdosta High School located on Barack Obama Boulevard will be complete by the end of February. She said plans are moving forward on the baseball-softball complex by the end of February.

In addition, facilities is looking to purchase a new home for the Feed the Cats program. Feed the Cats is a Touchdown Club program that provides athletes with meals steeped in more calories, proteins and carbs than in regular school meals.

Nobles said with the demolition of the old VHS, the program is searching for a new home. The board and the department began development to identify the best option.

Following the facilities update, Kyle Correll of Evolv Weapons Detection System presented a new safety measure for school buildings and outdoor events to the board.

Correll said Evolv spots concealed weapons and other threats using advanced digital sensors and artificial intelligence. He said Evolv can screen up to 3,600 people per hour — 10 times faster than traditional metal detectors.

Sabrina Smith, director of school safety and security, wrapped up the presentations with an update on district safety.

The district will be sub-contracting Valdosta Police Department and Lowndes County Sheriff's Office as an on-campus presence for Sallas Mahone Elementary School and Valdosta Early College Academy.

Smith said the officers will act as a presence for deterrence on these campuses, while the district looks to fill the full-time safety resource officer positions.

Smith updated the board on the success of the clear bag policy adopted Dec.13, 2022.

"We want to be proactive and not reactive in all of your safety efforts," Smith said. "I am continuously ensuring the training of all staff to ensure our district is safe."

The board concluded the retreat with an executive session.

The Valdosta Board of Education will meet 7 p.m., Feb. 27.