Schools gather public input on project


A proposal to address overcrowding and safety issues at two Seymour Community School Corp. buildings is gaining support and positive feedback.

On Tuesday night, the school board conducted a public hearing on a $52.45 million project to renovate and add onto the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center, Seymour High School and Seymour Ag-Science Research Farm located in Freeman Field Industrial Park.

Superintendent Brandon Harpe made a presentation about the details of the project, including the timeline and how it will be financed.

The plans are to transform the sixth grade center into an intermediate school for both fifth and sixth grade students and make major changes at the high school.

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The project is not expected to increase local property taxes because the debt is replacing existing debt that is about to be paid off from the construction of Seymour-Redding and Seymour-Jackson elementary schools, said corporation business manager Steve Nauman.

After an eight- to 10-month design phase, construction would begin in 2022 and take one and a half to two years to complete with fifth-graders starting at the new intermediate school in 2023.

Tuesday’s 1028 hearing is part of the legal process for the school corporation to move forward with the project. Another public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. today in the Seymour High School cafeteria.

Anyone interested in seeing the presentation and/or speaking in favor of or against the project is welcome to attend. Those wanting to speak will be asked to sign in and are limited to 3 minutes.

After Tuesday night’s presentation, Marvin Veatch, president and chief executive officer of JCB and a Seymour resident, spoke in support of the project.

Veatch said investing in the schools is important for a community because it is one way to attract people to live and work here.

"When people are looking at moving into the community, they ask two questions," he said. "They inquire about the quality of health care and the quality of the education system. I think we are extremely fortunate in this community to be able to have high quality in both of those areas."

The plans for the project are very well thought out, addressing the school system’s current and future needs, and are a testament to the leadership of Seymour Community Schools, Veatch said.

To be able to tackle a project of this scope and size without raising taxes is a great accomplishment, he added.

Board President Art Juergens said the community’s feedback on the proposed project is wanted and needed.

"We have to have public input to make this a success," he said.

Each school board member also took their turn in giving their thoughts about the need for the expansion.

Trustee John Kelley said most of the classroom space at both the high school and sixth grade center is not adequate to meet state standards.

"We are doing our best to address some of those safety issues," he said. "In my opinion, we need to move forward with this."

Trustee Jeff Joray said the work at the high school is a long-term solution to its aging infrastructure.

"Some structural issues in the athletic facilities must be renovated now," he said. "Plus, the other good news is there will be air conditioning in the gym, which makes a lot of people happy."

Trustee Nancy Franke said the project has always been student-centered and speaks toward the corporation’s commitment to providing safe and secure facilities and opportunities for all students.

"We are all very excited about the future of Seymour and our schools," she said.

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What: Public 1028 hearing on Seymour Community School Corp.’s proposed $52.45 million construction and renovation project

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Seymour High School cafeteria


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