Seymour Schools hit enrollment milestone


Seymour Community School Corp. made enrollment history on the first day of school Thursday, school officials said.

First day numbers pushed the corporation to 5,008 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

"As a district, we have surpassed the 5,000 student mark for the first time," Superintendent Brandon Harpe said.

The increase is 125 more students than the corporation had at the end of the 2018-19 school year in May when enrollment stood at 4,883 students.

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The continued growth is a good problem to have, but leads to challenges in staffing, safety, transportation, technology, class sizes and other logistical issues, Harpe added.

"We will take the next few days and assess exactly where our growth is," he said. "It is possible that we may need to add instructional assistants to help with larger classes and maybe even additional teachers."

Most of the district’s school buildings reported having large classes with 30 or more students Thursday. Those numbers will fluctuate over the next two weeks with the official average daily membership count day being in mid September. The state uses ADM to determine school funding.

Right now, enrollment stands at 171 more students than the fall 2018 ADM count.

One factor local officials look at to plan for the corporation’s future needs is the size of its kindergarten classes each year.

"We welcomed 411 new kindergarten students today, which will be the graduating class of 2032," Harpe said.

Margaret R. Brown Elementary School became the district’s largest elementary school with 632 students, followed by Seymour-Redding Elementary with 623 and Seymour-Jackson Elementary at 595. Emerson Elementary had 349 students and Cortland Elementary had 137 enrolled Thursday.

The Sixth Grade Center had 394 students and Seymour Middle School had 742.

Enrollment at Seymour High School stood at 1,536 students after the first day. The number of students is a concern as it continues to outpace the building’s capacity, Harpe said.

"Our new Ag Center relieves some of that pressure, but we are starting to work with our board and the community to plan for future expansion now," he said.

Enrollment will determine the corporation’s next steps, whether that’s adding on to existing buildings or constructing a new school.

"We are over 1,600 in grades kindergarten through third and if those numbers hold, we will probably near 1,800 at SHS in the next 10 years," Harpe said.

But Harpe sees the growth as a positive opportunity for the schools and the community.

"It is an exciting time and will allow us to continue to add additional programming, offer a lot of graduation pathways and continue to expand our dual credit classes," he said. "It is a great time to be an Owl."

Another area where the increase is being felt is in the schools’ cafeterias and kitchens, said Stacey Townsend, director of food services.

On the first day, staff served 3,522 lunches.

"To put that into perspective, during last school year we averaged 3,300 per day," she said. "So we are definitely going to be seeing more faces in the lunch line this year."

But the increase in students caused no major issues, she added.

"We experienced the typical obstacles of students being a bit nervous in the cafeteria lines and not having their ID numbers memorized, which causes things to move a little slowly these first few days," she said. "But those wrinkles will smooth out as students gain confidence and become more comfortable in their new buildings."

In transportation, Harpe said the number of students riding buses and being dropped off or picked up is on the rise too as the number of students who walk continues to decline.

Safety is always the biggest concern with transportation and the corporation plans to keep buses and cars separated at all of the schools, Harpe said.

"We ask all of our families to follow the traffic patterns and drop off/pickup routines that have been established at each school," he said. "We will continue to monitor and make adjustments as needed."

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Enrollment for Seymour Community School Corp.

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

Margaret R. Brown Elementary;584;628;632

Cortland Elementary;125;127;137

Emerson Elementary;343;354;349

Seymour-Jackson Elementary;606;630;595

Jackson Preschool;23;45;Unknown

Seymour-Redding Elementary;569;595;623

Seymour Middle School (Sixth through eighth grades);1,079;1,083;1,136

Seymour High School;1,523;1,465;1,536



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