Rapid growth means pressing need for more Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District classrooms | MyWindsorNow.com
James Redmond
jredmond@mywindsornow.com

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Rapid growth means pressing need for more Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District classrooms

Rapidly growing student enrollment in the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District means officials need to find space for all the kids and make sure each one still gets a quality education.

Those are the two glaring challenges the burgeoning district must accept and overcome in the next 10 years, according to Superintendent Dan Seegmiller.

Both need to be considered when eying the future, he said.

Windsor-Severance school district had slightly more that 6,000 enrolled students this past year. When Seegmiller first started in the district about 13 years ago, Windsor-Severance had about 3,000.

“There’s a potential we’re going to need to discussion another elementary school and an addition to Severance Middle School.” Dan SeegmillerSuperintendent

With an increasing rate of growth in the district, Windsor-Severance could double in size again in the next 10 years, he said.

Generally, these cycles bring rapid growth and then a slowdown, Seegmiller said.

"But this is a desirable place to live," he said. "This area offers a quality of life that is outstanding and will continue to appeal to people."

Over the previous 10 years, Windsor-Severance experienced an average of about 5 percent student population growth each year.

About 2 to 3 percent growth is usually seen as a good rate of growth, Seegmiller said. That's enough growth to slowly expand the district and its services while staying slow enough for officials to stay on top of everything.

This past year, the Windsor-Severance district had almost 10 percent growth in its enrollment. That's almost 600 new students — or a whole new school worth of kids, he said.

Fortunately, the district's surge of new students this past year didn't all come into the district at the same school or the same grade level. However, 600 students spread across grade levels still put stress on the district's capacity.

Windsor High School reached capacity a couple years ago — the new high school will alleviate that — and the district still has some capacity at other grade levels, Seegmiller said. But elementary and middle school grade levels will be the next choke point district officials have to deal with.

"If we continue with growth in the way that we are, in 10 years we'll have more schools in the district," he said. "The new high school will be up and running. By that point, we will have needed, depending on the growth, a couple more elementary schools and probably another middle school."

Should Windsor-Severance have to deal with another year or two of 10 percent growth, it'll need to make those new schools happen sooner rather than later.

Already school district officials are looking at moving up their plans to fund and build new schools at the elementary and middle school level.

School officials spent the past several years pursuing a $104.8 million bond measure — which passed this past year — to fund the construction of a second high school, expansion of Windsor High School and improvements at numerous district schools.

Originally the plan was to wait until 2020 before asking the community to support another bond to build new schools, but the rapid growth the district recently experienced means the officials will probably need to look at trying a bond question next year, Seegmiller said.

"There's a potential we're going to need to discuss another elementary school," he said, "and an addition to Severance Middle School."

If the district moves its plans for a bond from 2020 to 2018, it'll mean condensing its community-engagement process. However, he said, asking for and passing a bond takes a lot of hard work from everyone in the district and the community and officials won't take that endeavor lightly.

It's a lot of change for district officials to navigate in the next decade, Seegmiller said. The district is entering a transitioning period — he jokingly called it their "teenage years."

"There are some growing pains," he quipped.

No matter how big the district gets in 10 years or what it looks like, the goal will still be to offer its students a quality education.

With that, Seegmiller said he wants to see the district develop a significant number of pathways for students to prepare themselves for the job market and the world after the Windsor-Severance school district.

In some cases, that will mean students feel ready for college or university and don't need to take remedial classes. In other cases, that will mean they have the skill sets or certifications they need to enter the workforce as a skilled laborer, he said.