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Lakeland interviews for a principal, plans for growth

Lakeland School System logoInterviews this week for Lakeland Elementary’s new principal could yield an announcement as early as Thursday morning, Dr. Ted Horrell, superintendant, told the Lakeland school board Monday night. He added that, if additional time is needed for deliberation or checking references, the process could extend into next week.

The board also authorized Horrell to work on facilities planning within a $10,000 budget already provided by the Lakeland city board. The district currently contains only an elementary school, and Lakeland’s older children will be attending Arlington schools for the immediate future.

Board chairman Kevin Floyd said the district currently has roughly 2,100 students and a capacity to serve only about 850. “As we plan for the long-term viability of the school system, I think it’s important that we start planning on how to educate our children down the road. This is the beginning of that process. We may not need to do it now. We may need to do it now. There are a lot of factors that are beyond our control. One is our growth; the other is Arlington’s growth. It’s not hard to imagine that either one of us grows to the point where there’s a capacity issue.”

Future options could include a middle school and a high school, or a combined junior/senior high school.

Horrell will work with the school district’s planner, Nedra Jones, on a needs assessment. Next would come working with a real estate consultant to evaluate appropriate sites for anticipated growth of the school system.

Floyd said, “This is something that I don’t know when we will need it, but I know we’ll need it.”

He continued, “I think planning early is always a good thing, and I strongly support this and think it will be beneficial down the road — not only to our school system but also to our city as a whole when the time comes.”

In response to a board member’s question, Horrell estimated that erecting a new facility would take roughly three years from the issuing of a proposal to an architectural firm to the doors being opened.

The board also unanimously passed a set of routine policies that covered a broad range of topics, including the operating budget, deposit of funds, salary deductions, line item transfer authority, surplus property sales, naming of facilities, borrowing/renting supplies and equipment, student transportation management, curriculum development, guest speakers, school volunteers, establishment of a moment of silence, military leave, textbooks and more.

In discussing the textbook policy, Horrell said he is considering a long-range option that may save on future textbook costs. With approval of the board and support from teachers and parents, he may authorize teachers to receive a stipend in return for creating customized and easily updated electronic textbooks (e-books) for the students.  This process would require obtaining a waiver from the Tennessee Department of Education.

All policies will be posted on the school district’s website; to access, go online to http://boardpolicy.net/documents/default.asp?iBoard=124. The policies also can be accessed by going to the district’s site at http://lakelandk12.org/ and selecting from the drop-down menu: “About LSS,” “Board” and then “Policies.”

The school board also unanimously approved a Lakeland School System mission statement, vision statement and set of beliefs, created after hours of discussion at a recent board retreat. See the details of each at this link or on the school district’s site.

Before closing the meeting, the board authorized changing the next business meeting from June 2 to June 3 to accommodate some schedule conflicts.

The meeting opened with the enthusiastic strumming and singing of Lakeland Elementary School’s guitar club. The students filled the entire left half of the boardroom, earning applause for their renditions of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” and “Tutti Frutti.”

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