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Charter School To Move To Former Parochial School

By Paul Tuthill


Springfield, MA – A charter school in Springfield Massachusetts will re-locate to a former parochial school building in a move that officials say will save the city over 400 thousand dollars a year.. WAMC"s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.....

The New Leadership Charter School will lease the former Holy Name Parish school from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. It becomes the third public school in Springfield with plans to re-locate to a former parochial school in time for the start of the next school year.

New Leadership has operated for the last eight years out of modular classrooms on the campus of Western New England College. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno says the ten year lease with the diocese will save four million dollars when compared with the cost of the college site.

Although charter schools operate independently, the provisions of the New Leadership charter require the city to provide the school with space. Just last month, the city announced a deal to purchase two former parochial schools for roughly four million dollars apiece as replacements for two of the city's oldest public schools.

Officials with the Diocese of Springfield say they choose to lease the Holy Name School rather than sell it because of an attached social center that the parish will continue to use. Sister Catherine Leary, the pastoral minister at Holy Name, says the parish is delighted to welcome the charter school.

The New Leadership Charter School has 487 students currently enrolled and a staff of 56. Since it was founded 11 years ago, the school has moved three times. Principal Nancy Cote sees the former Holy Name school as their first permanent home.

The Diocese closed all five parish based elementary schools in Springfield last month in a strategic move to address rising costs and falling enrollments. Pre-K through 8th grade parochial education will be consolidated at a single academy...called St. Michaels...which is scheduled to open in September. The diocese has now sold or leased three of its former school buildings to the city. It is keeping the former Holy Cross school as part of the new St Michaels Academy leaving just the former Mount Carmel school in Springfield's South End to be disposed of.