Arlington weighs contract terms

By Carolyn Bahm
Express Editor

The Arlington school board and its superintendent chosen in a Dec. 23 vote are still negotiating contract terms, but details are likely to be ironed out during the first week of January.

The chosen candidate, Tammy Mason, discussed the contract discussion’s progress Tuesday and said she is looking forward to getting started with the job. “I’m humbled and honored. Also, there’s a great deal of excitement working in this community. I’m excited about being able to develop the school system the community desires.”

She believes the stability and calmer educational landscape of the upcoming 2014-2015 school year in Arlington will be welcomed by all after the upheaval of merging Shelby County and Memphis schools and all the steps necessary to launch a new school district.

She also anticipates the hard work ahead of her. “I’m one that loves a challenge, and I don’t think there’s going to be any greater challenge than beginning a new school system. I’m really looking to the challenge and the confidence the community has put in me.”

Currently, she is principal at Arlington High School and enjoys daily interactions with students. The new district’s small size appealed to her as she considered her colleagues’ suggestions to apply for the superintendent’s position. “What drew me to submitting my name was that, with it being such a small district, there’s no reason that same contact with students will have to be separate from the job of superintendent.”

Once contract negotiations are concluded and a contract is approved, she said her first steps will include hiring crucial personnel, developing key policies, and putting a budget together. She and the board will also explore having an open enrollment policy if the system has enough room.

All that planning will involve plenty of collaboration, and she said the area’s new municipal school system superintendents have already begun meeting to share ideas and discuss sharing resources in operational areas such as transportation, nutrition and possibly planning/purchasing.

Meanwhile, decisions on curriculum, student services, and finances will stay close to home, Mason said.

Because Lakeland’s elementary students attend middle and high school in Arlington, she expects to work closely with the new Lakeland superintendent, Dr. Ted Horrell, in particular. They have worked together in the past as principals, and she does not anticipate difficulties in finding common ground as superintendents.

“It will be very collaborative,” Mason said.