The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education has designated Southbridge Public Schools as a chronically underperforming district and authorized State Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester to appoint a receiver to manage the district.
"Receivership is a measure of last resort," Chester says in a news release, "but short of taking this step, I have no confidence that Southbridge schools are poised for a better future."
The receiver will have all the powers of the superintendent and school committee and will report directly to the commissioner. The state education department says it will appoint an individual or a non-profit group with a record of success in improving low-performing schools or the academic performance of disadvantaged students,
The board's intervention in Southbridge was based on information from a review of the district that found:
- The district was among the lowest-performing in the state in student scores on state assessments.
- 34 percent of students at Southbridge Middle/High School failed at least one course in 2015.
- 19 percent of students at Southbridge Middle/High School were suspended at least once in 2015.
- The needs of English language learners were not being met.
- The district has had seven superintendents and seven high school principals since 2011.
The receiver will develop a turnaround plan for Southbridge that will set priorities and develop strategies to accelerate achievement. The education department wants the receiver to be appointed and assume authority as soon as possible so that the turnaround plan will be in place for 2016-17.