Lakeland school board: New members sworn in, board updated on construction, finances

Lakeland’s school board swore in two newly elected members, accepted a high honor and were updated on the Lakeland Middle School (LMS) project at Monday night’s business meeting.

Swearing in

Sen. Mark Norris (R-Collierville) swore in in incumbent school board member Teresa Henry and new board member Geoff Hicks, who recently completed his orientation.

Henry’s son, Jake, held the Bible for her swearing in. Hicks’ daughter, Olivia, held it for him.

Norris said, “We worked hard to get you this school, and it’s important that we re-elect and now swear into office tonight people who are going to work hard to keep the Lakeland school and to make it stronger and to grow it as you go.”

School board chairman Kevin Floyd praised Norris for his critical work in making the municipal school district possible.

District honor

Shelby County Commissioner David Reaves presented the board with a proclamation honoring the district for earning the state’s highest designation, Exemplary status, during its first year of operations (2014-15). Floyd said Reaves’ presence Monday night brought things full circle, as he was an early supporter of the municipal school districts’ formation.

Reaves praised the city and school district. “It’s a great city, it’s got a great school board, a great superintendent.”

Middle school update

The district’s consultants from Southern Educational Strategies (SES) gave an update on the Lakeland Middle School project. Dr. Jim Mitchell of SES predicted an October close on the 94 acres of property.

Overall, he said the project is on schedule and moving forward as it should.

One of the requirements for closing is that the access roads have to be determined, Mitchell said. They have been staked, reviewed and approved by the property sellers.

The architects and engineers are actively involved in the schematic design phase of the project and are about 95 percent complete, he said. “We hope that in November the architects and engineers will have some drawings for the board to look at.”

The property has plenty of trees, and due diligence requires that the school district determine if there’s any real value to those trees and whether they will sell them to a logger or let the dirt contractor take them and reduce his contract amount.

Dr. Tim Fite, also of SES, saidthe next step is to seek additional timber quotes.

Financial report

“Everything is tracking as we would hope for this time of year,” Supt. Ted Horrell said.

The September expense summary report can be found online.

In particular, he pointed out a positive trend in the cafeteria’s budget:

  • Total August 2014 revenue was $7,546, compared to the August 2015 revenue of $9,677.
  • Total August 2014 labor costs were $15,157, compared to August 2015 labor costs of $15,093. The 2015 figure includes a major purchase of an ice machine ($2,297) and some substantial labor cost cuts.
  • The math shows that the cafeteria lost about $7,600 in August 2014. Not counting the ice machine purchase, the cafeteria lost substantially less in August 2015 — a little more than $3,000.

Horrell’s report

Horrell mentioned the smooth and successful introduction of Chrome-books in the classroom. These laptops, supported by the PTA, have been a smart investment, he said. Teachers are making extensive use of the updated computer labs to prepare students for TNReady (the newest TCAP test).

The district also started using one of the Chrome-book carts for the elementary school’s before- and after-school program, LEAP (Lakeland Extended Activities Program).

He also said the school system audit, which is being conducted with the city’s audit, has completed its work on site, and auditors are now busy on the paperwork.

Horrell said he felt good about the district’s likelihood of having a successful audit.

Other business

The school board also conducted other business, including:

  • Approval for a $25,500 contract with A2H for architectural and engineering fees on the elementary school’s re-roofing and replacement of approximately half of the HVAC units, planned for the summer of 2016. The board now must decide whether it wants to receive design and detailing for a TPO roof (thermoplastic polyolefin single-ply roofing membrane) or a built-up roof (a multi-layered roof with asphalt as the primary waterproofing component and either traditional roofing felts or modified bitumen felts). See contract details and proposed timeline online.
  • Approval of a sub-budget item of federal grants. Some funds were received from the state after the district’s budget were passed. See details online.
  • Approval of applying to the Tennessee Local Government Investment Pool, which is administered by the trustee of the state of Tennessee. This is a vehicle for the district to invest any fund balance to earn a small rate of return until money is withdrawn. It was recommended for the middle school project funds.
  • Had the first reading on routine policies updates recommended by the policy committee, carrying most over to the Novem-ber consent agenda. See a full list of the policies and details by selecting the Oct. 5 links at
  • Discussed having an annual retreat for board self-evaluation on Oct. 19 or Nov. 6.