There are a lot of great school systems in the surrounding Memphis area. You might also consider Northern Mississippi. Desoto County schools are an excellent option as well as Germantown or Collierville which were not previously mentioned. I am currently moving to the Memphis area with school aged children. It is a good time to buy in the area. Good Luck!
Schools are very important and in my opinion our childrens education should be a priority but you providing for your family is also a priority. I am in Georgia and not in Memphis but I am assuming that you have researched the schools and know that their test results are poor and that the reputation is poor. If you need to be close to Memphis for a job than I would recommend that perhaps you look at other areas close by Memphis that would provide you with better schools.
Do you have an agent in Memphis. If not, I would contact an agent that truly knows Memphis and surrounding areas so that they can help guide you. An agent cannot steer you but they can provide school information and school reports so that you can make an educated decision. There are great websites that can rate the different schools.
Good luck in your search!
Please do not listen to any agent that tries to sell you into any Memphis City school area. You must get out into the county.
We also live in Lakeland and love it, but are being transferred this year. Our lovely home in a lakefront community has a big back yard with a water garden and playground will be available for rent. It's Lakeland Elememtry (the best!), Arlington MS & HS (also great). This is comfortable (3 mi to the mall), safe living with wonderful neighbors.
Email me at AtlantaMerkles@aol.com for any info on Lakeland or the house for rent.
Best wishes, and stay out of Memphis (been there done that, won't go back)