In November 2021, the School Committee unanimously voted to rename Homer Street school in honor of retired State Representative and Civil Rights Icon Benjamin Swan.
The new $95 million state-of-the-art DeBerry-Swan School project will replace two old and outdated schools. DeBerry School was built in 1951 and no longer can accommodate the needs of our students and staff. The former Homer Street School was opened in 1898 and lacked the space and amenities needed such as a cafeteria and gymnasium.
Mayor Sarno states, “First, I want to thank the Massachusetts School Building Authority for their continued efforts in working with my administration to help not only update our schools but build brand new state-of-the-art schools for our children, teachers and staff. Just recently we held the grand opening of the brand new state-of-the-art Brightwood/Lincoln School in our North End and here we are again back in our Upper Hill and Old Hill Neighborhoods for this topping off ceremony. The MSBA has been a tremendous partner and I want to thank them and Treasurer Deb Goldberg for their unyielding support and investment in our Springfield. To the principals of both schools, Elizabeth Fazio and Catherine Roberts, this is for you, your teachers, staff, students and their families. The community has longed for this project to come to life and today is the day, especially as the former Homer Street will now be named in honor of beloved retired state Representative and Civil Rights icon Ben Swan. Thanks to the continued support from our School Committee, especially School Committeewoman Barbara Gresham for her outreach and efforts working with our neighborhood councils. Special thanks and appreciation to State Representative Bud Williams who has been a strong advocate for this project since his days on the City Council. I am looking forward to returning to this site in 2023 when we cut the ribbon for the grand open ceremony!”
Superintendent of Schools Daniel Warwick thanked the Massachusetts School Building Authority for their demonstrated commitment to the students of Springfield Public Schools. “MSBA continues to invest in Springfield students and we could not be more thrilled for the students of the DeBerry/Swan schools. It has been a long time coming and to stand beside the iconic Representative Benjamin Swan as his namesake school comes into fruition is an absolute honor and privilege,” Warwick said. “I am grateful to Barbara Gresham and the entire School Committee for their vision for our community in the renaming of Homer Street School in honor of Rep. Benjamin Swan. We are ensuring that the contributions this icon made to local and national civil rights will live forever in our school district.”
State Representative Bud Williams stated, “I want to applaud and thank Mayor Sarno, Superintendent Dan Warwick and the entire city team for their commitment to the 11th Hampden District and our neighborhood and community. This DeBerry/Swan School project has been on my agenda since my days on the City Council. It is great to see it come to fruition. It is also tremendous that we honor a legend of a man in our Springfield community, former state Representative Benjamin Swan by putting his name on the school so that our children who will walk the halls can learn about his life and legacy. Not many communities in the Commonwealth can capitalize on the investment made by the state through the MSBA. Mayor Sarno has made sure that the City of Springfield is well positioned to utilize these vital state resources to give our community new state-of-the-art schools. I am looking forward to the grand opening of this new DeBerry/Swan School and the creation of the new Park in the future.”
State Senator Adam Gomez said, “The education of our young people is of the utmost importance. They deserve to have access to the facilities and educational tools they need to thrive, learn, and become the next leaders in our communities - this is why the new state-of-the-art DeBerry-Swan School is such an exciting addition to our community. I am excited to see our young people learn in this new environment and I hope they are inspired by its namesake, as Representative Benjamin Swan remains an inspirational and important figure to Springfield history.”
“I want to thank my dedicated city team from Superintendent Dan Warwick and Director of Capital Asset Construction Peter Garvey to our friends in the building trades, Dinisco Design, Skanska and Fontaine Bros., Inc., for their continued efforts not only on this project but the many projects my administration has been able to get off the ground even with the challenges of dealing with this COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Sarno added.
The new state-of-the-art school will be on the site of the existing DeBerry School property on Union Street and DeBerry Park. The DeBerry School will remain in use during construction. The school is scheduled to be completed and open by August 2023. The old DeBerry School would then be demolished and a new parking lot created by August 2024.
Much like the Brightwood-Lincoln School, the new consolidated DeBerry-Swan School will have separate entrances and each school would retain their names, but would share some common areas such as a gymnasium and cafeteria-auditorium