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State approves move of Hilltown Cooperative Charter Public School to former Jenoptik building in Easthampton (with correction)

The request to move the school from 132 Main St., Haydenville, to its new location in Easthampton was approved Oct. 10 by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The Hilltown charter school has leased space in the Brassworks, a revitalized mill building on Route 9 in Haydenville, since it opened in 1993. Its new home is the 24,268-square-foot former Jenoptik Optical Systems manufacturing building on a four-acre property at 1 Industrial Parkway in Easthampton.

Hampshire Regional School Superintendent Craig Jurgensen supported the move, saying in a letter to the Massachusetts Department of Education the new site would provide better and safer parking and pick-up areas, better play and exercise space and provides a “more appropriate learning environment.”

Jurgensen wrote that “Hilltown’s relocation to a more appropriate physical space in Easthampton will benefit its students, staff and families.”

Many of the charter school’s 175 students live in Easthampton or Northampton.

JC Considine, a spokesman for the department, said, “It was an issue we looked at closely. .... There were some concerns expressed but we didn’t find any compelling reasons not to approve it.”

Tautznik criticized the school’s new site in a letter to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, citing a lack of sidewalks and lighting and heavy truck traffic nearby.

Tautznik said Easthampton has very little land available for industrial development and the site for the school is one of the few possible sites.

The property is valued at $1.3 million.*

“The potential for economic loss and catastrophic consequences to students is too great, please do not approve the request,” Tautznik wrote.

Considine said a state official inspected the site in Easthampton because “safety concerns were raised, but we were satisfied there are no safety issues.”

Staff writer Rebecca Everett contributed to this report. Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@gazettenet.com.

* CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the former Jenoptik building in Easthampton will become tax exempt when the Hilltown Cooperative Charter School moves in. The building is owned by private developers and will stay on the city’s tax rolls. <!-- span.deletedtext { background-repeat: repeat; background-attachment: scroll; background-color: red } span.embeddedtag { background-repeat: repeat; background-attachment: scroll; background-color: yellow } span.note { background-repeat: repeat; background-attachment: scroll; background-color: lime } -->

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