SCS Board To Vote On School Settlement With Arlington And Lakeland

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(Memphis) News Channel 3 uncovered what's inside the possible school settlement to end the lawsuit between the county and two suburbs.

Tonight the school board is considering a compromise letting Arlington and Lakeland create their own school districts.

The school board is set to vote on that settlement at a special meeting sometime after 5:30.

The county, Arlington, and Lakeland have come very close to settlements before, including last week, but those involved tell me this seems to be the real deal.

The settlement to drop the lawsuit and let Arlington and Lakeland form their school districts is complicated, but pretty simple on the surface.

According to school board members, Arlington and Lakeland will be allowed to buy the school buildings within their city limits below market cost. That number's not known right now.

But the move will give Shelby County Schools money it needs right now while giving the cities the buildings they need.

The Arlington mayor, however, says the city won't have to pay.

“Originally we talked about leasing, but leasing creates a lot of potential liability for the district so my understanding is what we're going to see is the actual transfer of deeds to the municipals,” said school board member David Reaves.

Reaves says this is a compromise.

In exchange the county will keep all students who live in the county and not within Arlington and Lakeland city limits.

This means students who go to Arlington and Lakeland, but don't live there may go to a different County school next year depending on how the settlement shakes out.

“If this was 100 years ago we would have a handshake and this would all be over,” said Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman.

But it's not 100 years ago, and tonight Arlington Mayor Mike Wissman is depending on the SCS board to approve a deal after a tense back and forth for months.

“Each side wants exactly what they want, but both sides have realized for the betterment of everybody we must get some kind of deal done,” said Wissman.

Should either school district dissolve in the future, the buildings would go back to SCS control.

If the board approves that deal Wissman says it will also need to be approved by each city and the Shelby County Commission.

SCS board members tell me they expect the other municipalities to follow this template with the exception of Germantown because it has to work out a dispute over school buildings.