Juniper Park talks with Russell to begin

WESTFIELD – Months after the Westfield School Committee approved Russell Elementary School as the optimal relocation site for Juniper Park Elementary School students this coming school year, Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Scallion is preparing to meet with the town of Russell’s Selectboard this weekend to discuss an agreement going forward.
“At their Town Meeting, the Russell Selectboard was approved to negotiate with us to reach a final lease,” said Scallion. “We’re hoping that we’ll be ready to meet with parents and we’ll be sending a letter out to them the moment it is done.”
Scallion added that photos of the school, which lies only a few miles west of Juniper Park on U.S. Route 20, will be on the district website for parents who may want to take a look for themselves.
“We’ll be arranging for an open house in late April when the snow melts, so they can see the grounds,” she said. “The school really is beautiful.”
Meetings will also have to be held with the parents of students involved with special programs at Juniper Park to determine where the best location for some of these students may be in the event that parents aren’t so sure on the temporary relocation to Russell.
“If parents are concerned about how far out of town these programs are, we’re going to open up the conversation and receive parent input,” said Scallion.
Regarding these upcoming conversations with Russell, School Committee Vice Chair Ramon Diaz said that now that Russell and the Westfield School Committee have granted their respective representatives the permission to negotiate, the process can now move forward.
“We’re passed the biggest hurdle, which was the Russell Town Meeting, which was pushed off because of weather,” he said. “I anticipate that we’ll have a lot of the details worked out shortly.”
Diaz said that Scallion’s plans to put up pictures and facilitate spring tours of the school, which was closed by the town several years back but has been maintained and used for other town functions, are good steps to take next.
“I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “It has been a long time coming.”

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