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Enrollment decline at South Central prompts changes

Declining enrollment at the South Central campus has led to the transfer of several teachers in the South Harrison Community School Corp. and the changing of grade levels at South Central Elementary and South Central Junior-Senior High schools.
At the May 1 meeting of the SHCSC Board of Trustees at Corydon Central Junior High, trustees approved the transfer for four teachers from SCJHS to SCE and then two teachers from SCE to the Corydon campus. The junior high, which was formerly grades 7 and 8, would be grades 6 through 8, with the elementary school going from K-6 to K-5.
‘This was driven by actual class sizes,’ Superintendent Dr. Neyland Clark said. ‘We’ve moved some junior high teachers who were qualified down to teaching sixth grade, and we’ve made a departmentalized sixth grade similar to one at Corydon Intermediate School.’
Clark said administrators had been looking at the plan for about three months and, with declining enrollment and class sizes shrinking, how schools could more efficiently use staff.
‘(Enrollment) is beginning to be somewhat of a concern,’ Clark said yesterday (Tuesday). ‘Over the last three years, we’ve lost about 100 students on the South Central campus. As the larger classes graduate, smaller classes are coming in.’
Clark said there were tentatively 69 students in the 2012 graduating class at South Central this year. With only 53 incoming freshmen, that’s a difference of 16 already, which is basically the size of one classroom.
‘We’re looking at smaller enrollments down the line,’ Clark said, noting that 60 percent of the students in the corporation are at the Corydon campus, 30 percent at South Central’s campus and 5 percent each at Heth-Washington and New Middletown elementary schools.
To combat the drop, South Harrison will begin marketing itself better.
‘Next year, we’ll explain how we offer early college high school and how, if a student took the right course direction, they could come out with an associate’s degree at no charge,’ Clark said. ‘We’ll promote that we offer free textbooks, free dual-credit classes and our 21st Century program (which provides laptops to incoming freshmen).’
Another plan working its way down the pipe is the possibility of changing New Middletown Elementary School to a magnet school to help students who are falling behind in their studies. In reality, Clark explained, if the move is made, then NMES would likely become a hybrid of a traditional school and a magnet school. He targeted the fall of the 2013-14 school year as the earliest the move would be made. He couldn’t rule out moving Heth-Washington Elementary School to the same model.
‘We’re beginning to take a serious look at it,’ he said. ‘It was something that may have been five to seven years out, but now it’s more like three to five years out.
‘No one wants to talk about it, redistricting or closing the school, but that’s the reality of the situation we’re in,’ Clark continued. ‘We want to students to go where they’ll fit in and be more successful.’
Later, Clark reminded the board that graduation for this year will be held June 3 at 1:30 p.m. at South Central and at 4 p.m. at Corydon Central.
Also at the meeting, several personnel changes were made. They were, by building:
Corporation ‘ accepted resignation of transportation coordinator Melissa Deaton.
Harrison County Exceptional Learners Cooperative ‘ accepted hiring of summer preschool teachers Kristin Lyvers and Debbie Schneider, summer speech therapist Lara Schillizzi and summer LPN/instructional assistant Virgilene Weatherly.
Corydon Central High School ‘ accepted hiring of secretary Carmen Gibson and resignation of teacher Kenya Fugit and National Honor Society sponsor Kathleen Reagan.
Corydon Central Junior High School ‘ accepted resignations of instructional assistant Melissa Ross and girls’ seventh-grade basketball coach Nicole Evans.
Corydon Elementary School ‘ accepted hiring of teacher Sally Baxter and custodian Jennifer Thomas and resignation of literacy guide Christine Pendleton.
Heth-Washington Elementary School ‘ accepted resignation of Title I instructional assistant Shari Elder.
South Central Elementary ‘ accepted resignation of girls’ sixth-grade basketball coach Cortnai Boone.
South Central Junior-Senior High School ‘ accepted resignation of teacher, junior high National Honor Society sponsor and high school National Honor Society sponsor Rick Uhl, for retirement purposes, and termination of Spanish and drama teacher Kristy Johnson.