State Board of Education discusses future of Holyoke schools

Last month, board voted to put schools under state receivership

EVERETT, Mass. (WWLP) – We’re getting an update on what state receivership means for Holyoke Public Schools. 22News was at the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education’s May monthly meeting in Everett on Tuesday to get you answers.

Holyoke Schools first became a state responsibility on April 28th, the Board of Education said representatives have been in the district every day. Progress is made in the transition from local to state control of Holyoke Public Schools. Interim receiver of the school district, Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester has narrowed down the list for his permanent replacement.

“There are four people who are on our list, who we’re looking at closely and in fact, two of them have sort of emerged as the leading candidates, so I hope we will be able to announce the receiver within a couple of weeks,” Commissioner Chester told 22News. He said three are Latinos, two are men, two are women, and they’re all very experienced.

At the meeting, one concern among board members was how members of the Holyoke community and parents could really have their voices be heard by the state in this transition process. Associate Commissioner Russell Johnston, had the answer. “We’ve set up four community-wide meetings at various locations, so we want to go out to the community to be in places where we know we would be able to get parents to very easily, and so we’re calling them community conversations,” he said.

The educational reform program, Project GRAD, will no longer be in the district for schools that were using it. Johnston said Morgan Elementary School, which was already a Level 5 school, will keep its leadership team the same next year under state receivership. He said this week, they will have a STEM fair to highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering and math fields. He said that will be the focus for next school year as well at Morgan.

A local stakeholders group of community leaders has formed. Commissioner Chester said the names of the estimated 15 people in that group will be announced on Wednesday. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse is part of that team. They will help make recommendations as the state works with the City to devise a reform plan for the next school year. That is expected to be finalized by late summer.

Here is a list of the upcoming Community Conversations in Holyoke:

  • May 20th at 6:00PM at Toepfert Apartments Community Room, 22 N. Summer St.
  • May 21st at 4:00PM at Enlace de Familias, 299-301 Main St.
  • May 21st at 6:00PM at Beaudoin Village Community Room, 15 Barrett Ave.
  • May 22nd at 9:30AM at Holyoke Public Library, 250 Chestnut St.

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