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One of Springfield’s middle schools may become charter school

Date: 3/12/2015

SPRINGFIELD – One of the city’s middle schools may become a charter school within the Empowerment Zone or it may not.

School Superintendent Dan Warwick explained to Reminder Publications that while the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) approved the application for UP Education Network to establish a Horace Mann charter school in the city, additional local votes would have to be taken.

A Horace Mann charter school is one that is controlled by the school district.

DESE made the announcement on Feb. 13. Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester said, “I am pleased to see school committees take advantage of the opportunity to incorporate charter schools into their districts. These two proposals underwent a rigorous review, and I believe they would be strong options for students in Salem and Springfield.”

According to the announcement form DESE, “The UP Academy Charter School of Springfield … would serve up to 800 students in grades 6 to 8.”

UP Education network, a Boston-based non-profit educational group had proposed converting one of the city’s Level 4 middle schools into a charter school. It currently operates five schools in the greater Boston area.

From the time UP Education network made its presentation and started on it application process with the state, the Springfield school district created the Empowerment Zone with Empower Schools.

The zone includes all of the city’s middle schools and Warwick said it would appear the Springfield Empowerment Zone Governing Board would have to approve the creation of the charter school within the zone.

He said that UP Education network has had “unrivaled success” in its other schools and that he is thrilled the organization has considered coming to Springfield.

Warwick explained a plan for the potential charter school must be developed by the end of November so that it would be ready for students for the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.