June 11, 2017

Superintendent, union hope leadership change adds up to progress at Elm Park Community School

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Patrick Sargent / For Worcester Sun

Elm Park Community School will have a new principal this fall. But will Ellen Kelley be able to change the school's fortunes?

Superintendent Maureen F. Binienda has been unexpectedly busy shuffling her leadership team as her first year at the helm of Worcester Public Schools draws to an end. At Elm Park Community School, the hope is that a change in principals will keep the underperforming school out of hot water with state education officials.

Joany Santa, principal at the pre-K-6 school on North Ashland Street since 2013, was reassigned to Vernon Hill School for the 2017-18 school year, while Ellen Kelley will move from Roosevelt Elementary School to Elm Park.

Roosevelt is one of 10 city schools classified by the state as a Level 1, or highest performing, school. Elm Park, on the other hand, was designated by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) as a Level 4 school in 2014. It is the only Level 4, or “lowest achieving and least improving,” school in the district and could be in danger of falling to Level 5, which would trigger intensive state involvement including receivership, as has happened in nearby Southbridge.

Binienda, who announced Santa’s transfer in late May as part of several principal changes, told the Sun in an email that the moves were made collectively to “better meet the needs of the children in the district.”

The superintendent said she was not motivated by avoiding a Level 5 designation.

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