According to the letter of intent , signed between DESE, Empower Schools, and the School Committee, the School Committee (SPS) and the SEA must negotiate an agreement for teachers working in the Empowerment Zone that DESE sees as substantially similar to the Lawrence Teacher Contract.
The Empowerment Zone will be governed by an Empowerment Zone Board comprised of three members appointed by SPS and three members appointed by DESE. Chris Gabrieli, Empower Schools CEO, will be the Chairperson of the Empowerment Zone Board.
The material provided below is made available to keep members in the Springfield Empowerment Zone (Chestnut North, South, and TAG, Duggan, Forest Park, Kennedy, Kiley, and Van Sickle) updated and informed so you can make an educated decision when it is time to ratify a new contract for the zone. We will keep this page updated and make information available that will be helpful for Teacher Leadership Teams for the development of plans for their school.
Empower Schools is one of the partners in the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership. They are a non-profit organization based in Boston that, as they state, "partners with communities to help them get the schools they want with the results they need."
Level 4 Schools - Turnaround and Emerging Practices
DESE has developed a series of reports on what they believe has led to turnaround in schools that have exited Level 4. Click here to learn more.
Lawrence Public Schools
As stated in the introduction above, DESE sees the Springfield Empowerment Zone as substantially similar to the Lawrence Teacher Contract therefore the following links will provide you with information regarding Lawrence Public Schools individual school operational plans, news and information about the impact of their collaborative work between the district and the union, and the Lawrence Teacher Contract.
Teacher teams in schools within the Empowerment Zone
Teacher teams in schools within the Empowerment Zone will develop their own school operational plans. The following links are to three schools with Level 1 and 3 designations whose student populations closely reflect Springfield Middle Schools.
Level 5 Schools
Level 5 schools are considered "chronically underperforming" schools that are both low performing and not showing signs of substantial improvement over time. A school with low performance is designated Level 5 by the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education because of significant concerns about capacity of the school and district to make the changes necessary to raise student achievement at the school to acceptable performance levels.
The Commissioner is responsible for creating a turnaround plan for a Level 5 school, and often places the school in the hands of a receiver. Last winter, the Commissioner announced who would work with him to develop and implement his turnaround plan for each of the Level 5 schools. They are:
Blueprint Schools Network for Dever Elementary School, Boston
UP Education Network for Holland Elementary School, Boston
Project GRAD USA for Morgan Full Service Community School, Holyoke
Dr. Pia Durkin, Superintendent, New Bedford Public Schools for John A. Parker Elementary School, New Bedford
Each receiver developed plans for their Level 5 school. This DESE web page provides these plans and the appeals the AFT and MTA made to the Board of DESE to change the plans of their effected schools (Morgan and Parker for MTA).
The local teachers unions, representing the Level 5 schools, were given the opportunity to bargain over the working conditions in the Level 5 schools, but, in the end, the Commissioner of Education could implement any changes he wanted.