Diocese announces sites for high, middle schools
Date: 7/26/2011July 27, 2011
By Chris Maza
Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD The Diocese of Springfield announced on July 25 the temporary locations of Cathedral High School and St. Michael’s Academy middle school.
Mark Dupont, director of Public Affairs for the diocese, confirmed to Reminder Publications
that the current plan is to relocate students of the high school to Memorial School in Wilbraham while moving students at St. Michael’s middle school to the elementary school campus on the grounds of Holy Cross parish.
The announcement puts to rest, at least for the moment, questions surrounding the school’s survival in the wake of the June 1 tornado that severely damaged the building that housed the high school since 1959 and the middle school since 2009. The diocese has yet to name a location for the St. Michael’s Academy preschool program.
Scott Chapman, chair of the Hampden-Wilbraham School Committee, said the district has happy to attempt to aid Cathedral while continuing to use the Memorial School building in a similar capacity to what it was originally built for.
“The school had approached us about the use of the school and our position is and has been that we’re very interested in continuing to use Memorial School as an educational building,” he said.
Memorial School, located at 310 Main St. in Wilbraham, was originally built in 1950 as an elementary school. Its 17 classrooms, in addition to a science lab, computer room, library and music and art room, served an average 330 students per year, according to information about the school on the town’s Web site. The school was closed as part of a district-wide restructuring effort in 2010.
Dupont said that of all the sites explored by the diocese, Memorial School served more of the schools’ needs than any other.
“From my understanding, it meets the requirements of our academic programs,” Dupont said. “Every site had pluses and minuses, but Memorial School provided the most resources with the most accessibility for our students.”
He added that the addition of some modular units for non-educational purposes has been discussed, but stressed that no classes would take place in modular classrooms.
No official lease has been signed between the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) and the diocese yet because legally HWRSD has to follow a request for proposal process and open the Memorial School building up for bid.
“We have to accept bids to see if any others are interested,” Chapman said. “Once the deadline passes, we will review the bids and the committee would make a decision on which bid to accept.”
However, Dupont said the diocese believed this to be merely a formality.
“We feel comfortable enough that once this process is completed, we will be able to begin negotiating a fair rent,” he said. “While they are performing the tasks they need to do to ensure this is all done legally, we have begun to do an analysis of what appropriate rents are.”
St. Michael’s Academy’s move to the Holy Cross property on Eddywood Street consolidates the entire St. Michael’s population on a single campus. Kindergarten through fifth grade have been taught at the former Holy Cross school since St. Michael’s came to be, while the middle school has called Wendover Road home.
The move will require the parish to vacate some of the space in the building it had been utilizing as parish offices and Dupont acknowledged it would be close quarters for all at the school.
“It’s going to be a tight fit there, but we are confident it can accommodate a K-through-8 program,” he said. “We have been working with the parish and they have been very willing to give us extra space that will allow us to house all of the students.”
Dupont said there is also the possibility of modular units at that site, but said the diocese and the school are hoping to be able to conduct classes without the need for them.
Further information regarding scheduling and other matters will be released by the diocese at a later date.