HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- It's time to grab the new notebooks and pencils because the kids are going back to school.

On Tuesday, Holyoke Public Schools held their first day of classes for the 2019-2020 academic year.

For about five years, Holyoke schools have been under receivership.

It was determined by the state that the district did not make enough progress and the school was not performing well and since then, the state has stepped in to help the district.

"To assume the responsibility of the school committee and the superintendent and it gave the district and receiver flexibilities to make decisions about resources and staffing in order to accelerate outcomes or kids in the school district," said Stephen Zrike, superintendent and receiver for Holyoke Public Schools.

Throughout those years, the district is proud to say they have made multiple improvements, such as a decrease in dropout rates and an increase in graduation rates.

"We created multiple pathways for families and students to select from - new school option, various programs, particularly the middle school and high school level. We did a high school redesign that includes opportunities for people to be placed in the workforce and multiple options for dual enrollment early college," Zrike added.

Even with those improvements, they are still looking to grow and develop and eventually get out the receivership.

"It's ultimately a decision that the commissioner of education makes to a board of education at the state level and they will make the decision when the time is come," Zrike noted.

The district also said having one high school, but two campuses, has allowed students to explore other options and combine cultures.

"It's helped unite a culture and unite the community around this idea: one city, one high school. We are not a very large city and even combined, our high school campuses are much smaller than many, many high schools across Massachusetts," Zrike noted.

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