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Lakeland school board projects growth needs

Lakeland School System's logoLakeland’s school board is looking ahead to when — not if — it will need to build either a combined junior/high school or separate facilities. The district is now getting land costs for its projections.

At a special-called meeting on May 20, the superintendent led the board through a discussion of different futures. Then the board unanimously approved letting its consultants enter into preliminary land negotiations for multiple sites and to bring some information back to the board’s June meeting.

The board will not have a work session for June, and it will have its regular meeting on a different date for that month only. The regular business meeting will occur at Lakeland Elementary after a ribbon cutting on June 3.

Board chairman Kevin Floyd said this step is not a purchase commitment; it just provides the board with needed data. The board will discuss its building options on June 3.

Lakeland’s middle and high school students will attend in the Arlington Community Schools district for the next three school years while the Lakeland district considers building beyond its current one-school status. Both districts expect growth.

Floyd said he expects middle school to be a pretty big issue as the middle school population grows. Dr. Ted Horrell, school district superintendent, said Arlington Middle School is currently over capacity already. Taking the numbers out to 2022, Floyd said Arlington High School may be close to capacity by then as well.

Horrell said Lakeland Elementary currently has growth room to serve up to 1,200 students, with portable classrooms included, or about 1,000 without.

In response to board questions, Horrell estimated that the 2017-18 school year is the earliest the district could project having a new facility to accommodate its older students, assuming no hold-ups.

Needs Overview

Horrell emphasized that this facilities needs assessment is preliminary and at a high level and isn’t intended to be comprehensive at this stage. Instead, it’s intended simply to start conversations. The assessment starts with current hard numbers and then included the “what-ifs” based on historical trends and fact-based projections.

Although this assessment doesn’t address construction costs at this stage, Horrell provided off-the-cuff rough estimates:

  • A high school or a joint junior/senior high school, in the $60-$70 million range
  • A middle school alone, in the $15-$20 million range
  • An elementary school, in the $8-$12 million range

The board authorized the superintendent to have the district’s real estate consultant to evaluate properties and talk with developers and landowners to help in cost projections for future growth.

Lakeland’s current demographics

The district has these demographics:

  • Total population, 12,622
  • Total student population living in Lakeland, 2,273:
    • 1,027 elementary
    • 541 middle school
    • 705 high school
  • Students attending school in Lakeland, 847

Lakeland students currently attend classes at these facilities:

  • Lakeland Elementary, 847
  • Donelson Elementary (Bartlett), 185
  • Barret’s Chapel Elementary (Bolton), 19
  • Arlington Middle, 344
  • Bon Lin Middle (Bartlett), 196
  • Arlington High, 663

Lakeland’s historical growth

“The question is, ‘What rate of growth can Lakeland expect?’” Horrell said.

Historically, the number of new single-unit homes built in Lakeland grew at an average of:

  • 6.68% during 2000-2007
  • 4.75% during 2000-2012
  • 1.67% for 2012 alone

When calculating student growth, the assessment assumed an average of 2.85 occupants per household (with an average of 0.46 students per house).

The preliminary facilities needs assessment looked at each of these historical growth rates.

3 potential growth trends

The facilities needs assessment looked at projected student numbers based on different growth trends:

Student Projections Based on 1.67% Rate of Growth
Grade Level 2014 2017 2022
Elementary (K-5) 1,027 1,079 1,173
Middle (6-8) 541 569 618
High (9-12) 705 741 805

 

Student Projections Based on 4.75% Rate of Growth
Grade Level 2014 2017 2022
Elementary (K-5) 1,027 1,180 1,489
Middle (6-8) 541 622 784
High (9-12) 705 810 1,022

 

Student Projections Based on 6.68% Rate of Growth
Grade Level 2014 2017 2022
Elementary (K-5) 1,027 1,247 1,631
Middle (6-8) 541 657 859
High (9-12) 705 856 1,120

 

Comparing Growth Rate Projections for 2017
  K-5 6-8 9-12
1.67% 1,079 569 741
4.75% 1,180 622 810
6.68% 1,247 657 856

 

Comparing Growth Rate Projections for 2022
  K-5 6-8 9-12
1.67% 1,173 618 805
4.75% 1,489 784 1,022
6.68% 1,631 859 1,120

 

The assessment looked at the current student population, expected growth in student numbers, the types of facilities needed for the anticipated growth and the advantages/disadvantages of each facility type. Assumptions include relatively stable increases/decreases in enrollment.

Birth data from Memphis and the Shelby County Health Department and historical enrollment were used in enrollment projections, which took anticipated housing changes and population trends into consideration.

The assessment also considered construction costs, location, programmatic offerings and staffing. Horrell worked on the data with Nedra Jones, the new municipal school districts’ shared services planning specialist, and Ben Clark, the district’s real estate consultant.

For discussion purposes, the district’s exploration and planning of new facilities has been named the Lakeland Prep Project. The name reflects the district’s goal of getting the most for its tax dollars — having a “private school feel” for a public school system.

RELATED STORY: Also at the May 20 meeting, the Lakeland School System’s Board of Education approved a health benefits package and discussed edits to the 2014-2015 budget.


Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to carolyn.bahm@journalinc.com.

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