“Project Grad” set to take over underperforming Holyoke school

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – An out-of-state non-profit group will take over operations of the Morgan Elementary School in Holyoke this summer, and the Morgan School’s new receiver is no stranger to Holyoke schools.

State Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester announced Wednesday, a non-profit called “Project Grad” will take over Morgan Elementary School in Holyoke, starting July 1st. Commissioner Chester last year designated the Morgan School as a “Level 5”, or  “chronically underperforming”,  and decided they needed outside help.

“They were shocked because they thought the school was on the right track to transform the school, but at the same time the state is doing what they need to be doing,” said Holyoke School Superintendent Dr. Sergio Paez.

“Project Grad” is based in Houston, Texas, but they’ve been working with Dean Technical High School for the last year.

“We have an organization on the ground in Holyoke that knows Holyoke,” said Chester. “It has a great track record, a tremendous success in a number of cities around the country.”

But the Vice Chair of the Holyoke School Committee told 22News he is disappointed. He wanted someone local who knows the City of Holyoke and the school district to be the receiver for this elementary school.

Devin Sheehan said, “We had someone that has been learning about the Morgan School community since they were appointed last April. Now we are starting fresh again. And it’s unfortunate because we all want what’s best for the students. We had that plan in place.”

Paez told 22News teachers will need to reapply for their jobs and he anticipates significant changes, and significantly improved performance.