Elementary/Middle School Redesign

The redesign process for grades Prek-8

Holyoke Public Schools will complete the transition to discrete elementary (PK-5) and middle (6-8) schools and redraw school boundary lines for fall 2023. This decision was made after many years of soliciting stakeholder input, innovating and planning.

This plan will:

  • Better prepare students academically and socially
  • Ensure continuity for dual language and special education programming
  • Be more equitable
  • Dedicate resources to instruction, not operations

HPS will move incrementally to implement these changes over time, with some as soon as fall 2022. More significant changes for the entire district will be made in fall 2023, after extensive community input and analysis from April-October 2022.

This information is also available on this easy-to-read summary.

Beginning in fall 2022, these schools will serve the following grades:

  • Donahue, Kelly, and Morgan will serve grades preK-5. Current 4th graders who would have moved onto Veritas Prep Holyoke will remain at Kelly and Morgan, respectively, for 5th grade.
  • Holyoke Middle will serve grades 6-8. Current Veritas students will now be part of Holyoke Middle.
  • Metcalf will serve grades preK-8, as originally planned with the continued growth of the dual language program.

These changes set the stage for a broader redistricting and rezoning process that will take effect in fall 2023. To inform and support these changes, HPS will engage in extensive community discussions and analysis, with guidance from expert consultants, to decide which schools will be elementary schools and which will be middle schools, which programs will be offered at each school, whether any schools will close, and which students attend which schools. These changes will require redrawing current attendance zones. We also commit to ensuring that any changes we make will be feasible, whether or not we are able to build a new middle school in fall 2026. Moving students and redrawing zone lines is a difficult conversation for any community, and we want to make sure that the plan we put into effect in fall 2023 will still work in fall 2026. 

This is an inclusive process

The district has formed a Grade Realignment and Rezoning Task Force to help guide the thinking for this project. Members of this task force will:

  • Learn about the past work that has led the district to the decision of distinct elementary and middle schools and the status of the middle school building project
  • Inform the principles (e.g. guidelines) on how to approach rezoning decisions
  • Provide expertise about their neighborhood, micro-communities within Holyoke, safe passage routes, etc.
  • Offer input and feedback on various rezoning approaches

The district has also hired technical consultants (AppGeo) to lead the technical analysis of rezoning and community outreach consultants (Cynthia M. Espinosa Marrero, Nayroby Rosa Soriano, Jose Bou, Dr. Yadilette Rivera-Colón) to support the district’s efforts in soliciting feedback throughout the project. Erin Linville, Chief of Strategy and Turnaround, is the district’s project leader, working closely with the facilities team, data team, family and community engagement team, and district leadership.  

Public input sessions

HPS is offering many opportunities for input from April-October 2022, including focus groups, all-invite conversations (virtually and in-person), surveys, and during community celebrations.  We will publicize the opportunities through our weekly newsletter (the Holyoke Update), on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) and on our website.

The history of these changes

All HPS students deserve experiences tailored to their respective developmental stages as they progress from elementary school towards high school. This new realignment of grades by school buildings is the latest step that follows changes already made.

Previously, HPS reorganized four schools—Morgan, Kelly, E.N. White, and Donague—so those buildings could focus on improved elementary instruction. HPS also enhanced the middle school experience by reestablishing middle school options, offering more hands-on learning and enrichment programming designed to strengthen students’ academic and social-emotional skills and engage them more deeply in school. Middle school students now have more access to extracurricular sports, arts, and music than before, and more changes will be coming. 

HPS previously introduced new middle school models. In fall 2018, Holyoke STEM Academy and Veritas Prep Holyoke opened. In SY20-21, the district’s dual language program was launched for middle school students.

In 2021, a 16-member middle grades collaborative study team made recommendations for strengthening  the middle school experience for all students. Highlights include:

  • Ensuring readiness for MassCore (a state-recommended program of study intended to align high school coursework with college and workforce expectations) through high quality curriculum and instruction.
  • Implementing an advisory period to support this development and offer opportunities for personal and career exploration. 
  • Providing exposure to enrichment opportunities and career pathways within core curriculum and advisory.
  • Developing and implementing a plan for middle schools now that works with/without a new building. 
  • Ensuring enough students per grade/school to allow for class and programming variety.
  • Offering continuity of programming from elementary to middle school.
  • Utilizing previous MS building work as a starting point in order to save time and money on the new project.

You may be wondering…

Refer to this FAQ section for answers to commonly asked questions.

With many different models of middle school in place, in 2021, a 16-member middle grades collaborative study team made recommendations on how to strengthen the middle school experience for all students. Watch the School Committee presentation to learn more. Or, read the presentation in English or Spanish.

Members of the HPS Grade Realignment and Rezoning Task Force kicked off their planning work on May 9. This video captures much of their initial discussion. Their work will continue through November 2022, when a final decision is made about rezoning district schools into  discrete elementary (PK-5) and middle (6-8) schools and redrawing school boundary lines.

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