Seymour Community Schools experience growing pains


The school year just ended and summer hasn’t officially begun, but administrators at Seymour Community School Corp. are planning for the fall when they expect to have more students than ever.

If enrollment grows as much as it did in 2018-19, the district could reach a new milestone, said Steve Nauman, corporation business manager.

"There is a strong possibility that we will go above 5,000 students next year," he said. "That’s good news. I would rather be growing than declining."

Both situations come with their own unique challenges, though, he added.

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All five elementary schools experienced growth during the past school year with Margaret R. Brown seeing the biggest increase in students.

"Every building is feeling the growing pains," Nauman said. "I hear from principals every week, ‘We’ve got one more student.’ It definitely says a lot for the school corporation."

Brown started the school year last August with 584 students and ended in May with 628, an increase of 44 students. Every grade, kindergarten through fifth, had more students at the end of the school year than the beginning.

In October 2018, administrators added a fifth kindergarten teacher at Brown to reduce class sizes to around 25 students per class. The district will have to add a fifth first-grade teacher before the start of the 2019-20 school year.

Nauman said five years ago, the corporation’s target student-to-teacher ratio was 24 to 1. Now, it’s 28 to 1.

"It’s almost impossible to level it out without busing kids from one building to the other," Nauman said.

School board vice president Nancy Franke said 28 students in a class is too many.

If the board wants to lower its student-to-teacher ratio, it will have to hire six or seven new teachers.

"Our budget won’t handle that," Nauman said.

Instead, the district moves teachers around to different grades and different schools depending on where the need is and has added more instructional aides, he said.

"We are always talking about class size. It’s a big concern," he said. "We’re very aware of that."

Nauman said the big issue right now is not having enough classroom space.

"Redding is about the only building with any rooms left," he said.

Due to the continued growth at Brown, the school used two portable classrooms last school year and will use them again for the 2019-20 school year for English as a second language and fine arts classes.

Franke asked if the corporation needs to invest in more portable buildings.

At this time, Nauman said that would be a hasty decision.

"Until you have opening day and you get to count day, you don’t want to overreact," he said. "We are so close at so many grade levels at so many buildings, you have to watch which one bubbles over."

Brown is now nearly as big as the corporation’s biggest elementary school, Seymour-Jackson Elementary, which saw an increase in enrollment of 24 students from the fall to the spring, putting the school at a total enrollment of 630 in May.

That figure does not include Jackson’s 45 preschool students. The preschool class has nearly doubled in size since the beginning of the school year. There are a total of six classes — three in the morning and three in the afternoon.

For the month of March, Brown’s enrollment was recorded at 634, eclipsing Jackson’s 629 students that month. But in April, Brown lost three students, dropping to 631, and Jackson gained four students, increasing to 633 students.

This fall’s target enrollment for the corporation is 4,945 students or 108 more students than the 2018 fall average daily membership count of 4,837 students. The state uses ADM to determine funding.

"That’s assuming we don’t get any new freshmen, which that’s a poor assumption but a safe estimate," Nauman said. "It would be a shock if we didn’t get any new freshmen."

Nauman said the district usually sees 30 to 40 new high school freshmen enroll each year.

The district ended the school year in May with an enrollment of 4,882 students or 45 more students than the fall ADM count.

Seymour’s 2018 target enrollment was 4,725 students, and the corporation grew by 172 students from an ADM of 4,665 students in fall of 2017.

At the elementary level alone, enrollment increased by 107 students from ADM count day in September to May, according to school enrollment reports.

"Not too many places around us can say that, so that’s good," Nauman said. "We’re doing something right here." 

Seymour High School was the only school in the district that lost students by the end of the school year, dropping 61 students from a fall ADM of 1,526 to 1,465 in May. That’s not unusual taking into consideration midterm graduates, dropouts and students who move away, Nauman said.

He expects the high school will be able to handle its enrollment for a couple more years, but within the next three to four years, the high school could reach 1,600 students, he said.

"If our trends continue, at some point, they could be 1,800 to 1,900 kids," he said. "That building is not designed for that many kids. These are things we have to be aware of, and I think the corporation has done a fantastic job of trying to address those things as they come up."

Franke said the high school can barely hold the student enrollment it has right now.

This fall’s enrollment will determine the corporations’ next steps, whether that’s adding on to existing buildings or constructing a new school.

"We definitely want to be proactive," Franke said.

Since the fall of 2012, Seymour Community School Corp. has seen an increase in enrollment of 789 students. There was only one year, from 2016 to 2017, that the district recorded a decrease, losing three students.

"I don’t know what happened a year ago, but that’s OK," Nauman said. "We made up for it this year."

The corporation monitors enrollment closely, and Nauman presents reports to the school board monthly.

There is no rhyme or reason to the growth, except that Seymour has a lot going for it, Nauman said.

"Seymour is a great place to be," he said.

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Enrollment for Seymour Community School Corp.

School;Enrollment on Aug. 9, 2018; Enrollment on May 1, 2019

Margaret R. Brown Elementary;584;628

Cortland Elementary;125;127

Emerson Elementary;343;354

Seymour-Jackson Elementary;606;630

Seymour-Redding Elementary;569;595

Jackson Preschool;23;45

Seymour Middle School (Sixth through eighth grades);1,079;1,083

Seymour High School;1,523;1,465


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Enrollment history for Seymour Community School Corp.










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