Superintendent Eric Holmes
Superintendent Eric Holmes

The York City School District will reopen Hannah Penn Middle School in January to accommodate students from New Hope Academy, a charter school the state ordered this week to close by Jan. 15.

The district's superintendent, Eric Holmes, said district officials have a comprehensive plan ready to go. The goal, he said, is to "make this transition as smooth as possible."

"We're interested in making sure our kids are not negatively affected by this process," he said. "That's all we're interested in."

Holmes announced the district's plan at a school board meeting Wednesday.

In July, the district -- citing the potential need to enroll former New Hope students -- sought the state's permission to reopen Hannah Penn, 415 E. Boundary Ave.

The district closed the school last year in a move to convert its six elementary schools to serve grades K-8.

New Hope officials have said they plan to appeal the state charter school appeals board's decision.

While the district acknowledges and respects New Hope's right to appeal, the district must prepare under the assumption that the board's decision will stand, Holmes said.

"We want to avoid as much as we can disrupting the education process for those students," he said.

New Hope officials said they serve about 815 students in grades 5 through 12.

Hannah Penn will reopen in January to serve students in grades 5 through 8 from New Hope only, Holmes said.

Older New Hope students will attend William Penn Senior High School, he said.

Then, for the 2014-2015 school year, Hannah Penn would open as a K-8 school following a restructuring of the district, Holmes said.

The goal in January will be to minimize the disruption to students' education. Keeping New Hope students with their classmates should ease that process, Holmes said.

Seniors need not worry about meeting graduation requirements, he said.

"We don't want anyone to think that they won't be able to graduate," Holmes said.

As for staffing, Holmes said the district has a plan, but he declined to share details.

It's too early to say how the district's finances will be affected by New Hope's closure and the likely transition of many of those students to the district, Holmes said.

Holmes said district officials do not yet know how many of the 815 New Hope students will enroll in the district.

He said the district will maintain the New Hope School of the Arts offered through the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, assuming the Strand agrees.

The district will hold a series of town-hall meetings and orientation sessions for New Hope students, parents and members of the community, Holmes said. The dates have yet to be finalized but will likely be scheduled for late October and early November, he said.

"I would imagine that people have lots of questions," Holmes said. "It's our job to answer them."

Holmes invited anyone with questions to contact him. His email address is holmeeri@ycs.k12.pa.us.

- Reach Erin James at ejames@yorkdispatch.com.