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HWRSD ranked among top 25 ‘Best School Districts for Your Buck’

Date: 10/9/2014

WILBRAHAM – A new study recently released by has listed the Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) among the top-25 “Best School Districts for Your Buck” in Massachusetts.

HWRSD finished 24th, highest among local districts, in the rankings, which graded 226 districts based on standardized test scores, four-year graduation rate, college readiness, class size, median home value and other home ownership costs.

During the past few fiscal years, HWRSD has faced severe budget constraints, leading to the raising of concerns vocally from district leadership and the School Committee regarding the amount of support being offered by the state.

The district did receive more regional transportation reimbursement funds than expected for fiscal year 2015, but Chapter 70 aid was increased by less than 1 percent. As a result, HWRSD was forced to make a number of staffing cuts for the 2014-2015 school year, including teachers, and raised tuition for the pre-K program.

The ranking, HWRSD Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea told Reminder Publications, shows that the tough decisions the district had to make in recent years still have the schools on a positive track.

“I think [the study] indicates our ability to be cost effective and educationally effective,” HWRSD Superintendent M. Martin O’Shea told Reminder Publications. “It validates a lot of the work we’ve done in recent years to allocate resources correctly.”

Kamran Rosen, the NerdWallet analyst who wrote the study, said HWRSD stood out especially in college readiness, four-year graduation rates and number of students pursuing higher education, while scoring “very well in affordability.”

Median home value in HWRSD was $286,400. By comparison, No. 23 Bookline had median home values of $684,800 and No. 25 Lincoln-Sudbury’s home prices averaged $649,100. The second-lowest median home value in the top-25 was No. 15 Chelmsford with $342,800.

“I think this says something about the quality of life in [HWRSD],” O’Shea said. “We have great communities to live in, and ones that can be lived in affordably.”

Rosen said in its formula, NerdWallet weighed living costs – home value and other expenses – at 30 percent of the total score to ensure student performance was not devalued.

O’Shea said while the study focused on high school performance, from graduation rates to the number of 10th grade students performing proficient or higher on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests, it was a strong indicator of the level of service offered to students at all levels.

“In the continuum of this district, the success of our graduates is dependent on what is happening from pre-K to 12th grade,” he said.

Longmeadow Public Schools ranked 36th, followed by Southwick-Tolland Regional Schools (104th), and East Longmeadow (114th). South Hadley ranked 123rd; Granby 129th; West Springfield 159th; Agawam 162nd; Chicopee 186th; and Westfield, 203rd.

Holyoke came in 218th, while Springfield was third from the bottom at 223rd.

Complete rankings and methodology can be found at