LSS eyes $27K annual savings with software change

New-LSS-logo-web-smallLakeland’s school board on Monday night approved a software change that could save the district thousands annually after the new middle school opens in August 2017. The board authorized Dr. Ted Horrell, superintendent of education, to negotiate a contract with Skyward Inc. The move will replace the Lakeland School System’s current business management (APECS), student information (PowerSchool), nutrition (Horizon) and several other software providers. This change could save nearly $27,000 annually.

Currently, the district has shared-services agreements with other districts to minimize costs in nine departments. The cost is based on what percentage of students in participating districts are Lakeland students. Last year’s costs were based on Lakeland’s 872 students (2.8 percent of all students in the participating districts). But enrollment is projected to reach 1,500 students when the district adds Lakeland Middle Preparatory School next year.

The shared-services agreements expire at the end of this school year, and all districts are weighing whether they will renew, Horrell said. Moving to Skyward would save, even though additional staffing may be needed.

At last week’s work session, Horrell said the city of Lakeland’s administration is planning to recommend use of Skyward’s Business Management Suite in collaboration with the school district to save money. He said the city is open to splitting the cost of two more staff members for payroll and IT.

For LSS, the first-year costs for 1,500 students with Skyward would be $63,407, compared to $89,567 under the shared-services agreements. Recurring costs would be $29,335 (compared to $37,628). The district would also give LSS staff direct oversight over most business and student functions.

The total recurring cost of Skyward (including the shared cost for two new employees) would be $98,250 per year. That compares to an estimated $125,109 annually for continuing shared services with Lakeland’s projected 1,500 students. The savings would be $26,859 annually.

The change is no reflection on how well the sharedservices agreements have benefitted LSS or how well the providers have performed. Horrell praised the Collierville and Bartlett districts’ employees who have provided shared services.

Skyward is a state-approved vendor and is used by 54 school districts in the state.

Other business

In other business, the board:

  • Unanimously passed a resolution supporting the use of the ACTAspire suite of tests in lieu of the state’s current TNReady testing (achievement tests). The goal is to persuade legislators to allow use of Aspire tests for assessing student performance. First, the board must persuade other Tennessee School Boards Association members to champion this change at the November TSBA conference and make it a legislative priority. This vote is the first step. See the full resolution online at
  • Discussed a very smooth first day of school Aug. 8 at Lakeland Elementary School. Buses ran on time and the day went off without any major hitches, Horrell said, noting that total enrollment as of Monday was 915 students. Thanks to work this summer, LES has brand-new air conditioning units that kept classrooms comfortable, as well as a new roof.
  • Heard Horrell’s plan to host a Meet-the-Principal Night this fall for students who will be attending the new Lakeland Middle Preparatory School next year. The facility is currently under construction and expected to open in August 2017.
  • Held an executive session (private meeting) with the board’s attorney for about 42 minutes.
  • Approved an FY2016-17 budget amendment.

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