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New Charter school re-opens enrollment process

By Paula Canning

Staff Writer

HOLYOKE The Holyoke Community Charter School has re-opened its student enrollment process to accommodate the high demand from parents seeking to enroll their child in the school, which opened Sept. 12.

"We decided to re-open the enrollment process after hearing from so many families eager to apply, even though nearly all 624 seats in every grade level have been filled," said Joe Dougherty, the school's interim principal.

Applications for a few limited spaces for grades kindergarten through seventh are due by 5 p.m. on Sept. 29. A lottery will be take place the following day at the school's 2200 Northampton Street location.

The school filled all 624 seats during a public lottery held March 15, at which Mayor Michael Sullivan, State Senator Michael Knapik (R-Westfield), State Representative Michael Kane (D-Holyoke) and Police Chief Anthony Scott took turns selecting names.

Dougherty explained that right after the school opened, a multitude of parents contacted the school inquiring as to how to get their child enrolled.

"We want wanted to give those parents an additional opportunity to go on the school's waiting list," he said, adding that the waiting list is currently at about 300.

The charter school is nine slots short of capacity, he said.

"We're just about on target," he said.

He said that of the 624 students enrolled, 595 are Holyoke residents and the rest are residents of surrounding communities, including Springfield and Chicopee.

Because the number fluctuates each day as students either move away from the area or transfer schools, he said that taking students off of the waiting list can be a "very fluid process."

He added that many families are "excited" to send their children to the new school.

"[They are] excited about sending their children to a rigorous school with a college-preparatory mission," he said noting that the school's strict code of conduct, uniform requirement, longer school day, and daily Spanish instruction for all grades are the school's main attractions.

"Our students will be in school for one hour and 35 minutes longer than the typical Holyoke school day," he said. "This means our students will be in school for an equivalent 37.5 extra days."

The opening day for the school went "excellent," according to Dougherty.

"It was a wonderful, exciting opening," he said. "It went way beyond our expectations."

The Charter School will be managed by SABIS Educational Systems, Inc., which for the past 10 years has operated SABIS International Charter School in Springfield.