Springfield Empowerment Zone
The Springfield Empowerment Zone represents a new and unique partnership between Springfield Public Schools (SPS), Empower Schools, the Springfield Education Association (SEA) and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).
The initiative bands eight middle schools together as a zone that operates under a partnership between the district, SEA, Empower Schools and the state, providing a unique opportunity for each school to focus on improvement through individualized leadership and programing that addresses its specific needs at the middle school level.
Chestnut (which the district divided into Chestnut South, Chestnut North and Chestnut Talented and Gifted in the 2014-15 school year), Kiley, Kennedy, Forest Park, Duggan and Van Sickle would comprise The Springfield Empowerment Zone. The zone becomes effective for the 2015-16 school year.
“This is an entirely new way of looking at and addressing the distinctive issues that nationally tend to challenge the education process at the middle school level,” said Warwick. “While our middle school students have improved at a rate that is higher than the state average, we still need to do more. We need to be bold and innovative in our approach and The Springfield Empowerment Zone does just that.”
Warwick emphasized that the initiative is a mutually agreed upon partnership between the four parties and at this juncture does not designate any of the schools involved as Level 5.
In September 2014, the Commissioner of Education named Duggan, Van Sickle and Forest Park Level 4 schools based on their MCAS performance from 2011-2014. In 2010, the state placed the Level 4 designation onto Kennedy, Kiley and Chestnut. While there have been signs of improvement at all three schools, the pace has not been rapid enough for the schools to exit the state’s designation.
“The staff and the students at these schools have worked very hard and I am proud of their gains,” said Warwick. “As a district, we’ve been diligent about improving middle school performance; including adding five new schools in order to create smaller learning communities; assigning leaders with track records of success; and implementing good, sound strategies that have had measurable outcomes. Still, we need more.”
Under the arrangement, the district is working with Empower Schools, an independent advisor, to launch The Springfield Empowerment Zone and manage the initial implementation. The organization has previously had success catalyzing turnaround efforts at schools in Lawrence and Salem.
Springfield Empowerment Zone Governing Board
A seven-member governing board comprised of three SPS and four DESE representatives oversees The Springfield Empowerment Zone.
Learn more about the SEZP Governing Board:
Learn more about the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership on their website.