About Middle School Redesign
Middle school students deserve experiences, tailored to their developmental stage, as they progress from elementary school towards high school. We are enhancing the middle school experience for all middle school students by offering more enrichment programming, designed to strengthen their academic and social-emotional skills and engage them more deeply in school. Middle school students have more access to extracurricular sports, arts, and music than ever before.
We have also introduced new middle school models. In fall 2018, we opened two new middle school options by co-locating with existing schools. Holyoke STEM Academy was a theme selected due to community interest and alignment to the high school academies, and Veritas Prep Holyoke is modeled after a top-performing school in Springfield. And, in Fall 2021, our dual language program is expanding to 7th grade. Meanwhile, we continue to convert more of our PreK-8 buildings to elementary schools to open more space and specialized learning opportunities for PreK-5. With many different models of middle school in place, we have convened a middle grades collaborative study team to make recommendations on our vision and implications for a strong middle school for all students.
Proposed Middle School Building
There are so many reasons we are excited about the potential of a new middle school building in Holyoke. A new building will allow us to:
- Continue moving towards a model of distinct elementary and middle schools, so that students can have a customized learning experience for their age level
- Continue to expand unique programs, such as the dual language program
- Plan for structural and financial sustainability
- Update our portfolio of schools so that more students have access to buildings conducive for learning in the 21st century
In November 2019, the citizens of Holyoke considered a ballot question to fund two new middle school buildings. Although the ballot question was not passed, many Holyoke residents are supportive of a new middle school building, yet wanted to explore other funding sources. Accordingly, in May 2020, the City Council submitted a Statement of Interest (SOI) to the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to continue to explore the construction of one new middle school building as we work together to realize the educational vision of HPS.
After the City’s analysis demonstrated that the City can afford one new middle school building, the City Councilors voted unanimously on April 6, 2021, in favor of a resolution that the Holyoke City Council endorses the plan to apply to the MSBA to build one middle school for 550 students. With this support, the MSBA accepted Holyoke’s SOI for a new school building and our Eligibility Period has begun.
A key next step is to appoint a School Building Committee. Mayor Murphy will solicit nominations to the School Building Committee in August. Mayor Murphy will meet with the Mayoral candidates to solicit their input to ensure this is a committee that has the support of the incoming Mayor and doesn’t experience disruption with a change in mayoral leadership. We look forward to you getting involved!