Two Lakeland groups are clamoring for the best education for their children, but there are huge differences in how they want to achieve that.
Lakeland currently has only an elementary school and is grappling with the decision to expand and how to pay for it. In the meantime, a seven-year interlocal agreement with Arlington Community Schools (ACS) allows Lakeland to send its middle and high school students to the highly rated Arlington schools.
The four key questions getting attention are:
- Whether to build a proposed $50 million combined middle/high school (Lakeland Prep),
- If it’s built, when to do so,
- If it’s built, how to pay for it, and
- If it’s built and a bond issue is used to pay for it, whether to let citizens vote on the bond.
The project is a major cost and a major point of discussion for a city with about 12,430 residents (as of the 2010 Census), including 8,274 registered voters. In a city of this size, many people are likely to feel the effects and costs.
The Lakeland city board approved a $50 million general obligation bond issue on Dec. 11 to build Lakeland Prep, and they did not support the mayor’s motion to have a referendum (citywide vote) on the bond.
Currently, a group of Lakeland citizens is trying to get enough signatures to force the referendum.
As of Monday, the petitioners were closing in on 900 signatures and said they plan to submit the petition to the Shelby County Election Commission for verification on Dec. 30. They need at least 827 signatures verified as Lakeland residents who are also registered voters in order to require Lakeland to have a referendum.
Read what both sides say
Click the following links to review some of the arguments and data provided by people on opposing sides of this issue:
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.