Hundreds of students, parents, faculty and staff came out to celebrate a symbolic ribbon cutting at Lakeland Elementary School Tuesday evening. Although it is not a new school, the building has acquired new significance as the flagship and only school in the Lakeland School System.
“Three years ago this was a dream,” said Dr. Ted Horrell, superintendant of Lakeland. “And a lot of people said you can’t. But I can tell you Lakeland can, Lakeland did, and Lakeland has.”
Lakeland is one of six new municipal districts across Shelby County, which received keys to their school buildings from Shelby County on Monday. Lakeland is the smallest of the new municipal districts and on Tuesday board members voted to pursue expansion to include a middle school.
Students played trumpets, the glee club sang “Blue and Red and White” and staff served cookies and punch, as Wyatt Bunker, the mayor of Lakeland, proclaimed June 3 Lakeland Elementary School Day.
But just after the celebration was over, the Lakeland board already began discussions of how they will grow the district at their monthly meeting. The board received a series of complicated land use drawings from Renaissance Land Advisors, which sketched out some initial ideas about where the district might build a middle and high school. Although Lakeland only serves 847 students currently, Doug Swink, a representative of Renaissance said that once Lakeland has been developed to its full capacity, it could serve more than 10,000 students.
Former Shelby County Schools Superintendent James Mitchell cautioned the board not to build too quickly, before it was clear how many students would move into the district. “This will be the biggest investment this city has ever made and may ever make,” Mitchell said.
The board unanimously approved a proposal to empower Horrell to take the next steps toward building a middle school. Although they left open the possibility of building a high school at some point in the future, the board chose not to pursue it at this time.
On Monday applause broke out at the monthly Millington Municipal Schools’ monthly meeting, when it was announced that it had received keys to its four buildings. “That is another hurdle we have passed and we are moving ahead,” said Dr. David Roper, the Millington Superintendent.
Although Millington didn’t throw a celebration, board members expressed relief. “There’s been so much that’s frustrating it’s unbelievable,” said Board-member Donald Holsinger. “Everything is working well right now.”