FITCHBURG (CBS/AP) — The state education board has voted to put the Holyoke public schools into receivership.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted 8-3 on Tuesday at a meeting in Fitchburg to accept a recommendation from state Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester to designate the Holyoke schools as “Level 5,” or chronically underperforming.

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That triggers the state takeover.

Chester cited a “persistent and pervasive” underperformance of the city’s schools. He said only one in three students there was reading at grade level.

“I approach receivership with a profound sense of responsibility to the youth and city of Holyoke,” Chester said. “In light of the persistent and pervasive underperformance of the district, it simply is not defensible to leave on the table the tools and authorities that receivership provides. For this reason, I applaud the Board’s vote.”

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The Massachusetts Teachers Association had opposed receivership, saying the schools were headed in the right direction.

Lawrence is the only other school district in Massachusetts under receivership.

“Rapid improvement in results will not come from business as usual,” Commissioner Chester said. “There are many talented teachers and staff in Holyoke, and I welcome those who are willing to commit to the turnaround process we are undertaking. We will need their help to rethink the educational program from the ground up.”

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