The City of Holyoke has entered into a contract with the architecture/design firm Mount Vernon Group for schematic design work for a proposed new middle school to replace Peck School. The City Council previously appropriated funding to pay for this work as part of a feasibility study for the project.
The city’s decision to select Mount Vernon Group’s proposal followed a four-month process of soliciting and reviewing proposals under the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s “model school” program. The School Building Committee conducted interviews with three architecture/design firms, which included Flansburgh, Jones Whitsett, and Mount Vernon Group. Jones Whitsett withdrew from consideration in December 2022. Second-round interviews were conducted on January 12 with the remaining two firms. The SBC then voted 11-2 to move forward with negotiations with Mount Vernon Group.
Holyoke Public Schools is rezoning to create distinct elementary and middle schools for fall 2023, while also reimagining its middle school program to strengthen educational learning opportunities for students in grades 6-8. As part of this reimagining process, Holyoke is considering construction of a new middle school to replace the poorly designed, energy-inefficient William R. Peck Middle School that no longer meets the needs of a modern education. Under the rezoning plan, the Peck building will be closed at the end of the 2022-23 school year. Sullivan School, Holyoke STEM, and Metcalf Middle School will serve students in grades 6-8 beginning in fall 2023.
The City of Holyoke, Holyoke Public Schools, and the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) are working together to try to build a new middle school for approximately 550 students in grades 6-8.
If funding is approved by the City Council and MSBA, the existing Peck School would be demolished and a new school would be built at that site by fall 2025 or 2026. Students assigned to Holyoke STEM and Metcalf Middle would then attend the new school built on the site of Peck School.
If funding for new construction is not approved, students from Holyoke STEM and Metcalf Middle would move back into the existing Peck building. HPS would work with the City to upgrade the existing facility to the extent possible, but there would be many limitations—especially with funding. In 2018, it was estimated that renovating Peck just to bring it up to code would be $59 million, while renovating Peck to bring the building up to code and meet educational goals would cost $72 million. These costs would be 100% the responsibility of the City; the MSBA would not participate.
Mount Vernon Group is expected to complete the design work for the proposed new middle school in late April so it can be submitted to the MSBA for review and consideration. The City of Holyoke anticipates the MSBA will vote on June 27 to approve the project and allocate its share of the funding needed to construct a new middle school. In May or June, Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia and members of the School Building Committee are expected to submit a financial request to the City Council to cover the city’s share of the costs for constructing the new school. The City Council would then need to vote on that request.