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VOL. 130 | NO. 74 | Thursday, April 16, 2015

Lakeland Election Decides New School’s Fate

By Bill Dries

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If every voter in Lakeland votes in the Thursday, April 16, school bond issue referendum, it will be fewer than 9,000 citizens.

Voters in Lakeland go to the polls Thursday, April 16, to vote on a $50 million school bond issue. It is the first election of 2015 in Shelby County.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

More people voted in some of the one-candidate state House district primaries last August in Shelby County.

But Lakeland’s decision, once the votes are counted Thursday evening, is an important moment for the rise of Shelby County’s six suburban school systems that are nearing the end of their first school year of operation.

The $50 million bond issue would finance construction of Lakeland Prep, a grades 6-12 school that would open in August 2018.

Polls in Lakeland are open Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Follow the election results @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, after the polls close at 7 p.m.

A total of 2,374 voters in Lakeland turned out for the early voting period that ended April 11.

The turnout is 28 percent of the 8,390 eligible voters in Lakeland.

Of the 2,374 early voters, 28.1 percent were age 65 and over and 24 percent were ages 45-54, according to Shelby County Election Commission statistics.

The Lakeland Schools System currently consists of Lakeland Elementary School. Middle and high-school aged Lakeland residents attend Arlington and Bartlett schools under an agreement among the school systems.

The attendance zones within the six suburban school systems and their agreements with each other for attendance across their respective boundaries have always been subject to change.

Lakeland’s decision, once the votes are counted Thursday evening, is an important moment for the rise of Shelby County’s six suburban school systems, which are nearing the end of their first school year.

And the first day of classes last August confirmed the need for changes including new school construction in some systems.

Collierville Schools leaders also are considering building a new Collierville High School.

Lakeland’s city commission has endorsed a 55-cent property tax hike for a town of 12,000 that didn’t have a property tax rate until its citizens voted to form their own school system. The commission was poised to approve the school bonds the tax hike would pay for when a group of citizens mounted a petition drive that put the bond issue on the ballot.

The petition drive reflects a difference of opinion in Lakeland that will be decided with Thursday’s vote count.

Meanwhile, Lakeland Schools consultant Southern Educational Strategies LLC has recommended a 94-acre site for the school north of U.S. 70 and east of Canada Road.

PROPERTY SALES 101 603 9,602
MORTGAGES 92 538 10,616
BUILDING PERMITS 215 1,282 20,958
BANKRUPTCIES 51 408 6,108