HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- On Tuesday, students in Holyoke headed back to school.

Just last academic year, two schools in Holyoke merged together to form one high school with two campuses.

The district felt making one high school would help bring the community closer.

One school provides a career vocational experience and one is a comprehensive high school experience

Holyoke Public Schools felt that combing the two schools into one made sense for the small city.

"Students are having access to many of the same programs, enrichment opportunities, sports and extracurricular activities," said Stephen Zrike, receiver and superintendent of Holyoke Public Schools.

However, there were also challenges when combining two schools.

"They are obviously not near one another. There's the distance between the schools. That presents challenges, but I think what's positive is we began to see a consistency of expectation," Zrike explained.

To help fix that issue, the district purchased a number of different vans.

"So it's not only access across both campuses, but betwee the community college with HCC, with Westfield, and the workforce so if you're in a job placement, we can provide transportation for you as well" Zrike said,

In addition to combining Dean and the high school, Holyoke Public Schools is looking to create two new middle schools.

Right now, there are no schools in Holyoke that house just middle schoolers, but the approval would allow the district to afford building the two schools.

Zrike told Western Mass News that residents have very strong opinions about this proposal.

"...and that is slated to be on the November ballot for the voters to decide in the November election and as we enter the start of school, there will be more discussion and we hope folks get engaged regardless of their view point is of the two projects," Zrike added.

The schools would be built on Chestnut Street and the second would be at the current Peck School site.

If residents vote to build the middle schools, both sites would be able to host 550 students.

The new project would cost $131 million.

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