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Pending changes will affect more than half of all HPS students in grades PreK-8

Holyoke Public Schools kicked off a listening campaign this week to gather feedback from staff, students, families, and other community members about the district’s rezoning efforts.

On Monday, district leaders met with about 120 people during three meetings—two for staff during the school day and one for rezoning task force members last night. Tuesday’s schedule called for two more listening sessions with staff during the day, including one early morning meeting that drew 50 participants. Seven more meetings are scheduled for later in the week, including a public meeting for community members at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Kelly School. Additional meetings are scheduled through mid October.

“We want to hear from as many people as we can before we make final decisions about how to rezone our district,” said HPS Chief of Strategy and Turnaround Erin Linville. “More than half of all students in grades PreK-8 will attend a new school next year when the district completes its transition to separate elementary and middle schools and redraws school boundary lines for fall 2023.”

The big-picture decision to rezone was made after many years of soliciting stakeholder input, innovating, and planning. The next step is to develop a concrete plan for how each individual school will be configured.

“While there are significant benefits to rezoning, we also understand that change is disruptive and can raise feelings of uncertainty,” said Ms. Linville. “We believe it’s important to seek out and incorporate the voices of those impacted. That’s why we have designed an inclusive process and why we continue to offer many opportunities for our families, community members, staff and students to learn more about rezoning and to offer input.”

In addition to internal meetings with staff, HPS has scheduled a series of four community conversations to provide information and gather feedback, the first of which is tomorrow at Kelly School.

There will be two in-person Family and Community Conversations. Learn in Motion and the YMCA will provide fun, supervised activities for children ages 3-14. Food is also provided.

  • Wednesday, September 14, 5 pm: Kelly School

    • Free transportation available from Lawrence (pickup at 4:30 p.m.) and Morgan (pickup at 4:40 p.m.)

  • Thursday, September 29, 5:30 pm: Holyoke High School North

    • Free transportation available from Donahue and Sullivan (pickup times will be announced soon)

There will also be two virtual Family and Community Conversations. Register here to receive the Zoom link.

  • Wednesday, September 21, 9 a.m.

  • Tuesday, October 11, 5:30 p.m.

“We are excited about continuing our move to separate elementary and middle schools,” said Superintendent Anthony Soto. “This change is in response to significant community input over the last six years and tightens up efforts that had already started. It will help us better prepare students academically and socially, offer a more equitable experience across our schools, and dedicate more resources to instruction.”

The district website is one place to obtain more information about rezoning, while this FAQ document provides answers to commonly asked questions. “Participating in community conversations is also an important way to learn more, ask questions, and offer opinions,” Mr. Soto said.