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For Immediate Release
Friday, February 6, 2015
Contact:DESE: Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115; Springfield Public Schools: Azell Cavaan 413-787-7575; SEZP Contact: Paul Robbins 413-682-0002

Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership Board Members Announced

Springfield - The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Springfield Public Schools today announced the members of the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership Board of Directors. This board, with four members appointed by the state and three representatives of Springfield Public Schools, will oversee the eight middle schools in the Springfield Empowerment Zone: Chestnut South, Chestnut North, Chestnut Talented and Gifted, Kiley, Kennedy, Forest Park, Duggan and Van Sickle. The board will report to Springfield Public School Superintendent Daniel J. Warwick and Massachusetts Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Mitchell D. Chester. The zone was created late last year through the efforts of Springfield Public Schools; Empower Schools, an independent advisor; the Springfield Education Association and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education with the goal of accelerating student achievement in those schools. The state has identified all of them as Level 4 schools, putting them among the bottom 20 percent of middle schools in the state. (In Chestnut's case, it was designated Level 4 when the three pieces of the school were still one.) Commissioner Chester appointed the following members to the Board of Directors:
  • Chris Gabrieli, co-founder and chairman of Empower Schools, will serve as the board's chairman. Empower Schools has helped catalyze turnaround efforts at schools in Lawrence and Salem.
  • John H. Davis is senior trustee of the Springfield-based Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation and former chairman of the board and CEO of American Saw & Mfg. Company in East Longmeadow. The Davis Foundation supports non-profit organizations that improve the quality of life of Hampden County residents.
  • Beverly A. Holmes of Springfield is a business leader, strategist, author and activist and a former member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. She was a senior vice president at MassMutual Financial Group and is the founder and president of B.A. Holmes & Associates, a business and leadership development consulting firm.
  • James O'S. Morton of Springfield is a member of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Greater Hartford. He is also former president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Springfield and is a former lawyer and teacher.
Per the Memorandum of Understanding, the seven-member Board of Directors will include the Springfield Public School superintendent or a designee, the City of Springfield mayor or a designee and the Springfield Public School Committee vice chairman or a designee. Superintendent Warwick announced today that he, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and School Committee Vice Chairman Christopher Collins will fill the posts. "I think this speaks to the commitment that our district has for the Springfield Empowerment Zone. We look forward to working with the fine appointees made by the Commissioner, all of whom have stellar reputations and whose work on behalf Springfield children is well known and respected," Mr. Warwick said. "I am happy to help assemble such a strong team to guide improvement in these eight middle schools," Commissioner Chester said. "I believe these individuals understand the urgency of the situation and will use this innovative governance approach to benefit students." Mr. Gabrieli said, "This effort has been about partnership and what is best for the students of Springfield since the very beginning. We worked hard to identify board members with a rich diversity of experience and deep roots in the community, and it is exciting to see it come together and get to work. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but we also have a real opportunity to empower school leaders and teachers and improve outcomes for students." The Board of Directors will have its first meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10th in the library of the Chestnut middle schools, 355 Plainfield St., Springfield. For more information on the Springfield Empowerment Zone, go to Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership.

Last Updated: February 6, 2015

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