Rezoning: HPS is moving to separate elementary and middle schools in fall 2023

Why is Holyoke Public Schools rezoning its elementary and middle schools?

Three Rezoning Perspectives:

HPS Superintendent Anthony Soto

Holyoke Mayor and School Committee Chair Joshua Garcia

HPS School Committee Vice Chair Mildred Lefebvre

HPS Superintendent Anthony Soto smiling near a brick wall

Dear Families, Partners, and Colleagues,

We’ve talked about how hard change can be many times over the past few years. Why? Because we as a community have been going through a series of changes designed to improve educational outcomes for all our students. 

I know we all agree that change—even when absolutely necessary—is hard. But it is made easier when we know we are being heard, when our suggestions are valued, when our fears and concerns are acknowledged. That’s my job: To hear you, to consider your perspectives and incorporate them as we can, and to truly care that community-wide changes affect each individual and each family differently.

Please know this: I am listening. I do care. It is my job to ensure that HPS meets its mission of helping all Holyoke students develop the skills and access the opportunities they need to graduate high school prepared for life, career, and college. We can only do that through equitable, high-quality education, and trusting relationships.

That’s why rezoning—with all its messy and uncomfortable changes—is a crucial step in helping us better meet students’ academic and social-emotional needs.

Rezoning allows us to:

  • Design schools tailored to elementary or middle school grades;

  • Staff each grade with a complete team of teachers who collaborate together; 

  • Expand learning opportunities, including growing dual language and offering varied enrichment opportunities to students; and 

  • Dedicate more resources to instruction, not operations.

Change is hard. And it’s messy. And it’s necessary. But: Juntos podemos, together we can.

Superintendent Anthony Soto

Phase 3 under way: Implementation planning

Holyoke Public Schools is moving along with planning for a successful rezoning process. Important dates and activities include: 

  • January: Conduct family surveys for input on uniforms, cell phone policy, and middle school enrichment courses. 

  • Late January: Mail letters to families with their children’s school placement and transportation eligibility.

  • February: Conduct a survey for families of rising 5th and 8th grade students to gauge their interest in staying at their current school next fall, if space is available. This survey applies to Donahue, Kelly, McMahon, Morgan, E.N. White and STEM, given space and programming.

  • February - May: Host school tours for new families. The tour schedule is here.

  • March: Announce SY23-24 calendar, school start and end times, and uniform decisions.

  • March 1 - 31: Open Priority Zone Appeal application.

  • May 15: Host School Professional Development day with new school teams.

  • Mid-to-Late August: Host Back-to-school celebrations, orientations, tours, etc. Release student-teacher assignments and bus routes.

  • Ongoing: Continue to upgrade facilities, especially at Sullivan and Metcalf.

Rezoning decisions from Phase 1 and Phase 2

In December 2022, Holyoke Public Schools concluded Phase 2 of a six-month rezoning planning process that will allow the district to transition to separate elementary (PK-5) and middle (6-8) schools and redraw school boundary lines for fall 2023. Since the spring, 1,250+ participants in 46 public and internal meetings, 710 survey responders across 3 surveys, and countless stakeholders at 60+ school and community events have had the opportunity to share their opinions on how to best move Holyoke forward. This comes after many years of listening to stakeholder feedback, piloting middle school models, and moving some schools to elementary already. 

Final Phase 2 rezoning decisions were shared with HPS families, staff, and community partners, along with a recap of Phase 1 and initial Phase 2 decisions previously released in October and November.

Rezoning allows HPS to:

  • Design schools tailored to elementary or middle school grades;

  • Staff each grade with a complete team of teachers who collaborate together;

  • Ensure program continuity for specialized special education programs and from elementary through middle school;  

  • Expand learning opportunities, including offering engaging enrichment opportunities to students and growing the dual language program; and 

  • Dedicate more resources to instruction, not operations.

Where individual children will be assigned to attend school next year

The PreK-5 elementary schools will be: Donahue, E.N. White, Kelly, Lawrence, McMahon and Morgan.
The elementary schools map can be found here

The grades 6-8 middle schools will be: Sullivan, Holyoke STEM, and Metcalf Middle.
The middle schools map can be found here.

This fact sheet explains how school assignments will work.

Fall 2022 rezoning decisions and announcements

What guided our decisions

In 2022, the Rezoning Task Force and Rezoning Working Group helped develop guidelines for how decisions about rezoning would be made, with input from other stakeholders gathered during public meetings and from a survey open to all community members.

The Rezoning Guidelines include:

Most Important

  • Design schools that put student needs first and prioritizes money spent on instruction

  • Ensure equitable access to special programs

Very Important

  • Balance student demographics across schools (In discussions, this seemed especially important for middle school) 

  • Ensure program continuity from elementary to middle school 

  • Ensure efficient use of space and stable enrollment


  • Ensure safe walking routes

  • Have neighborhood schools (Access to the school seemed especially important in subsequent conversations for elementary)

  • Minimize the impact of families

  • Minimize transportation costs

To read more about the elements included in each guideline, please see these slides.

Frequently Asked Questions

Thanks for being involved!

We especially want to express appreciation for the people who have been heavily involved in the process, including: 

  • The Rezoning Working Group (primarily school, district and city leaders);

  • The Rezoning Task Force (families, community members, and staff);

  • The Cabinet team;

  • Stefany Garcia, Jasarah Burgos, and the entire FACE team;

  • The Middle Grades collaboration study team members who made recommendations on the middle school model;

  • The School Committee;

  • The Middle School Building Committee;

  • The HPS Communications team;

  • Our outreach consultants (Nayroby Rosa, Jose Bou, Kathy Anderson, Cynthia Espinosa); and

  • Our technical consultants from AppGeo (Priya Sankalia, Ashley Tardif, Russell Cohen, Kate Hickey).

We also thank everyone who has completed surveys and participated in a variety of community events and discussions to learn more.