The Lakeland School Board (LSB) met in regular session tonight (11.13.17) and heard details on a capital plan to build out a high school and add space to the elementary school.
The capital plan for the high school was presented by Dr. Ted Horrell, Lakeland School System (LSS) superintendent, to the BOC (Board of Commissioners) Nov. 9 at the request of BOC members. Link to story: http://lakelandcurrents.com/boc-tonight-high-school-forecast-2020-vision-plans/. He repeated the presentation tonight to the LSB during his monthly report to the Board. In an agenda item, he presented a capital plan update on needs at Lakeland Elementary School (LES).
There is a sense of urgency about completing the campus at 5020 Lions Crest Drive sooner than later because of Republican plans to overhaul the tax system and impact municipal debt. Attorney for the School Board, Eric Plumley, was asked to gauge the mood about the impending legislation.
“I talked with the City’s bond counsel and asked how serious this is (the possibility of tax reform),” said Mr. Plumley. “On Friday, I was told this is a done deal. And a group of bond lawyers agreed. They are advising their clients this is going to happen.”
He added, “Even if the bill is not passed by the end of the year, the tax consequence would be retroactive to this year (2017).”
Chris Patterson, city attorney, told the BOC last week that the urgency on consideration of this project now is related to recent changes in federal legislation dealing with municipal debt. “If you are considering any capital projects in the next three to five years, it would be wise to consider options before the bill passes,” he said.
Dr. Horrell reiterated this will be a high school wing to the newly opened Lakeland Middle Preparatory School (LMPS) and not a second school.
Capital plans for LES would cost $3 million for cafeteria expansion and classroom additions. Dr. Horrell also said that based on growth estimates, there is a need to look for property for a second elementary or intermediate school within the next year for construction in the next five to 10 years.
He expects the $3 million expansion would handle needs of area students for five years but believes it is in the best interest of the Board to start looking for property now.
He said enrollment at LES this year is 889 and estimates were for 818 students in grades K-4. Kindergarten estimate was 133 and 164 are enrolled. Student projections by new residential developments are 34 new students from Oakwood Grove and 23 new students from Kensington Manor.
Dr. Horrell said enrollment this year at LMPS, which opened in August, is 719 students in grades 5-8.
Board Member Geoff Hicks commented that if the entire campus (middle and high school) had been built at one time, the cost would have been $50 million. Now, he said, it’s likely that it will cost $3 to $6.5 million more to finish out the high school.
Chair Kevin Floyd said the appropriate next step is for Dr. Horrell to update the capital plan including the high school and elementary. Then the Board can discuss and vet the options. Mr. Floyd asked Dr. Horrell to pick a date for a special meeting.
At the start of the meeting, LMPS football coaches were recognized for their first season. Coach Tyler White and assistants Danny Welch and Jason Wright were praised by Dr. Horrell for the work they did with the team, noting the men were only hired in the summer and had to get equipment and be prepared for the season. “You did a great job,” said Dr. Horrell. Added Mr. Floyd, “And the team got better as the season progressed.”
Lakeland citizen Stephanie Lefler addressed the BOC, asking questions about building the high school and the costs. Chair Floyd explained they would be happy to address her questions but the Board had not yet seen the proposal or talked about it. (The capital plan for both schools was introduced later in the meeting.)
Chair Floyd reviewed recent accolades for LSS including number one in state test scores, state-wide recognition for the middle school in design and notification that LES is an Exemplary School.
In his monthly report, Dr. Horrell praised the Veterans Day programs at both schools and said there are three openings within the system: two teachers at LES and one special education assistant at LMPS. He also announced that TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) scores will not be part of report cards next spring because they won’t be available until June. He said the Lakeland system will not wait for the scores to mail report cards.
Angela Delloso, director of academics and exceptional learning for LSS, presented a data report to the Board, noting it was a baseline year for LSS.
Among the facts she shared:
- Of 146 districts in Tennessee, LSS had the top rating. “No one beat us in English, language arts and math,” she said.
- The TVAAS (Tennessee Value Added Assessment System) won’t just measure achievement but also growth.
The comprehensive report was full of charts and graphs comparing student results by grades and noted that the baseline for Lakeland going forward is very high. The report is to be posted on the LSS website.
The Board sailed through other discussion items, adding a review of the 2018-19 calendar to the list. There are some minor changes to the school calendar which involve a longer Thanksgiving break and later start date to school, according to Vice Chair Laura Harrison. She said Bartlett and Collierville will likely adopt the changes and perhaps Arlington. The details will be discussed at the work session Dec. 4.
Link to tonight’s agenda: