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Regionalization with Hopedale Schools Goes Forward

The Regionalization Sub-Committee chaired by Don Morin of the School Committee recommended looking further into regionalization with the Hopedale School District at the June 14 School Committee Meeting.

Hopedale approached Mendon-Upton in January in hopes of partnering with the regional schools and becoming a three-town district.

When the Mendon Upton School Committee was first approached a small sub-committee consisting of Morin, Mendon Upton School Superintendent Antonio Fernandes and Mendon Upton School Committee member Camille Harvey was formed.

At the May 10 School Committee meeting Morin, Fernandes and Harvey asked the School Committee to allow a larger sub-committee to delve deeper into this merger and see if it was worth pursing. At that time, Curriculum Director Janice Gallagher; Nipmuc Regional High School teachers Meg Cilley and Bill Leaver; Sara McIntyre from Miscoe Hill School; Upton Finance Committee member Jon Calianos; Mendon Finance Committee member Rich Schofield; Upton residents Phil DeZutter, Brian Gallagher and Al Holman; and Mendon residents Sharon Cutler, Mike Goddard and Timmy King joined the committee to look at the regionalization option.

Committee members reviewed the merger four weeks and said it would have a number of benefits. The merger would save the districts money by having one central office and one set of administrators instead of two. Some of the merged district buildings could be used for specialty programs that would bring in revenue. Also with more students, the new district could offer a wider range of classes including more Advanced Placement courses.

A number of challenges would also have to be faced. Officials noted that if the schools do merge, Hopedale would need to change its elementary school to K-4 and middle school to grades 5-8 to align with Mendon Upton. They also suggested that all the high school students attend Nipmuc. Administrators said the building could handle student population without any additions. Hopedale students would have to adapt to Nipmuc's block schedule of 90-minute classes and the reading and math curricula would have to be aligned. Additionally Hopedale would have to give up its school identity as the Blue Raiders.

Morin made a recommendation to the Mendon Upton School Committee on June 14 to appoint members to a Regional Planning Board to work with Hopedale's representatives to spend the next year investigating regionalization with the hope of making a decision next spring.

If the Regional Planning Board believes it makes sense to expand the regional district, an article to do so will be placed on the Mendon, Upton and Hopedale Annual Town Meeting warrants next May since voters in each community must approve the plan. If all three towns approve the article, it would take another year to plan for the merger. The expanded district would take place in Fiscal Year 2013, which is the 2012-2013 school year.


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