Lakeland and Arlington Schools Agreements Near

By Bill Dries

Agreements on school buildings and school attendance zones for the Arlington and Lakeland school systems go to the Shelby County Schools board for consideration at a Tuesday, Nov. 18, special meeting of the school board.

School board chairman Kevin Woods confirmed the tentative deal just hours after Shelby County Commissioners discussed it in a closed session with their attorney in the pending federal court suit over the formation of the suburban school districts.

The commission ended its regular meeting Monday by setting a special meeting for Thursday at 1 p.m. Between now and then, commissioner are expecting a copy of both proposed agreements.

No one is talking details of the agreements yet which will also require the approval of the school boards for Lakeland and Arlington which were elected earlier this month and take office once the election results are certified.

The commission does not necessarily have to approve the agreements on school buildings and attendance zones. Its vote Thursday could be on whether to drop the part of the federal court lawsuit that claims the suburban school districts would racially “resegregate” public schools in Shelby County. Although that vote on a resolution by Commissioner Chris Thomas is now postponed to December.

Dropping the lawsuit isn’t part of the school system to school system negotiations. But suburban leaders have said any agreement on those terms depends on the lawsuit being dropped.

Shelby County Commissioner Heidi Shafer said those in the Lakeland and Arlington talks had been close to an agreement in recent days and came to the commission through their attorneys Monday just minutes after reaching tentative agreement on the details.

Shafer and other commissioners said approval of agreements with those two towns could prompt other suburban school systems to reach agreements. But Shafer said a deal with Germantown and Millington schools might take more time because of the plan by Shelby County Schools to keep three schools in Germantown and one in Millington as part of Shelby County Schools.