Hampden considering voting itself out of joint school district

Residents voted to keep the Thorton W. Burgess Middle School open

HAMPDEN, Mass. (WWLP) –  The town of Hampden is considering voting itself out of the Hampden-Wilbraham school district.

The two towns have been at odds over education for years.

The joint school district wanted to shut down Hampden’s Thorton W. Burgess Middle School and consolidate students at Wilbraham Middle School. It was meant to address the declining enrollment and a lack of funds, but Hampden voters rejected the idea.

Now, some the Hampden Town Meeting voted to study the feasibility and costs of deregionalizing grades K-8.

“People are worried that by not having a middle school in town, we would lose the identity of Hampden, and it might make it less attractive for people to move in,” said John Flynn, Chairman of the Hampden Selectboard.

“The people in Hampden feel they are second citizens to Wilbraham,” Marjorie Wright, of Hampden said. “We voted and it doesn’t seem to be following what we thought we voted for.”

The Thorton W. Burgess Middle School is still open, but about 50 kids have requested to transfer to Wilbraham next school year. Residents said regardless, the district should honor voters and keep the middle school open.

Any major decisions, like closure or creating a new district, would still require Wilbraham’s approval.