Historic Days for Municipal Schools

Local Systems Take Control of Buildings on June 2, Plan Future Growth

LSS_!

Lakeland Elementary School Principal Joretha Lockhart is all smiles as she cuts the ribbon celebrating the transfer of Lakeland Elementary to the new Lakeland School System. Lakeland School Board Members Teresa Henry, Chairman Kevin Floyd, and Matt Wright look on with their families, along with Superintendent Dr. Ted Horrell.

“We’re just getting started!” — Lakeland School System Board Chairman Kevin Floyd’s comments at the June 3 Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new municipal school system would prove to be prophetic ones.

Just two hours later, the five members of the LSS voted unanimously to present the Lakeland Board of Commissioners with a two-phase, seven-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that would include an immediate request for the construction of a middle school and the consideration of building a high school at the end of the seven years.

Presented to the board as “Option A,” the planned middle school would be a 100,000 sq. ft. facility housing 1,000 students on approximately 18 acres with a total projected cost of over $16.6 million.

The proposed Lakeland middle school could be structured as either grades 6-8 or K-8.  If the latter option is chosen, Lakeland Superintendent Dr. Ted Horrell commented that the current Lakeland Elementary School could also be reconfigured to serve grades K-8.

Floyd commented that while he “really, really, really” likes the idea of Lakeland having a K-12 system, moving forward with the construction of a middle school seemed to be the best move.  Floyd added that he feels it is in the best interest of the city to have that eventuality  of  building a high school “on the radar.”

While Lakeland and Arlington currently have an interlocal agreement for  Arlington to educate Lakeland’s middle and high school students, board members expressed concern about what could happen at the end of the seven–year agreement if Arlington schools are full with Arlington students.

“There is no clause for after the agreement expires,” Floyd informed the board. “It would be negligent not to plan for afterwards.”

In 2013-14, Lakeland sent 541 middle school and 663 high school students to Arlington.

Those numbers are expected to increase, however.  In fact, both communities anticipate significant housing  and student population growth. At a May 20th board meeting it was reported that the City of Lakeland has a current inventory of 300 lots approved & ready to build with an additional 1500 approved, but not yet buildable.

Land Advisor Doug Swink also presented the board with six target areas in Lakeland that he identified as potential school sites based on land availability and student populations. No site selection decisions were made at the meeting, however.

Planning and construction of a middle school could take three years from land negotiations to being ready for students., which fits in with the three-year termination  without penalty clause in the interlocal agreement.  While notification of terminated  was discussed, no action was taken.

 

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