Seymour Community School Corp.’s enrollment was less than expected last fall during the COVID-19 pandemic.
School officials had predicted and planned for significant growth in student enrollment last school year, but September 2020 showed the exact opposite — the potential for declining enrollment.
Steve Nauman, corporation business manager, said he blamed the situation on the ongoing pandemic and believed some families opted to keep their children home and had not yet registered them for the district’s option for online learning.
He said he knows the students are out there and will come back. He just doesn’t know when.
“Enrollment numbers for the 2021-22 school year are difficult to forecast after last year,” Nauman said. “We do expect to start growing again in the future, and we’ll have a better idea after the first week of school in August.”
Nauman said they will know even more about enrollment numbers after count day Sept. 17. Then they can see where they are in comparison with last year.
“We are expecting 5,200 students going into this school year,” he said.
Seymour was planning to be at 5,325 students for the 2020-21 school year. On Sept. 3, enrollment was at 5,136, which is 189 students short of what Nauman wrote the budget on.
“Basic state tuition support is estimated to be $6,446 per student this fall,” Nauman said. “November and December payments are reduced by the overpayment.”
Last year, the corporation was receiving more in state support than it should have due to early enrollment projections, so the state adjusted funding in November by $374,103, he said.
When asked if he thought the OWL Tech online school might help raise enrollment numbers, Nauman said yes.
Kathy Beavers is the lead teacher for the new full-time online education option within the corporation that’s designed to meet the needs of everyone.
Students enrolled in the program may participate in all SCSC events, activities and clubs according to the normal requirements. If students wish to participate in band or choir, they may go to those classes at the brick-and-mortar buildings.
Should a student want to participate in Seymour athletics, they must follow all of the guidelines, tryouts and other requirements of the team.
“We are very excited to offer this additional service to the students of Seymour Community Schools,” Nauman said.
As students and staff return to the classroom, wearing a face mask will be optional. The schools will have masks available upon request for any person who would like to wear one.
Superintendent Brandon Harpe said due to the ever-changing nature of the pandemic, there may be exceptions or changes.
Those changes would be based on requirements or recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indiana State Department of Health and local health officials.
The first teacher day is Tuesday, and students go back to school Thursday.