Town Meeting Overwhelmingly Approves Warrant Article 4, moves Driscoll School Building Project forward
On Tuesday, November 19, Brookline Town Meeting Members overwhelmingly voted in favor of appropriating construction funds to the Driscoll School Building Project. With the passage of Warrant Article 4, the Public Schools of Brookline has reached an important milestone in their long-term capital plan to address overcrowded classrooms and other sub-standard school facilities.
School Committee Member David Pearlman was on hand to present a strong case for moving forward, while Interim Superintendent Ben Lummis also provided support and answered questions regarding the district's concerns on overcrowding and substandard spaces. Ultimately, the 203-13 vote allocates $115.3M to the project and allows the Driscoll School Building Committee and architects to prepare for the construction process.
With the cost estimates tentatively set and agreed upon, the Town of Brookline must now agree to fund this project through a debt exclusion override. Voters may approve this override during a special town election held on December 10.
As it currently stands, the building project would renovate and expand the current Driscoll School into a 4-section building (i.e., 4 classrooms per grade level), provide additional learning spaces for special education programs, and increase outdoor playspace by 24,500 square feet.
Overview and Background
Since 2005, Brookline has experienced historic enrollment growth in its public schools. The K-8 elementary schools have grown by 39% going from 3,904 students in 2006 to 5,442 students in 2019, which is equivalent to adding four schools into our existing schools in just nearly 15 years. For a decade now, the Town and School Department has been addressing the expanding student population by studying potential sites for a new elementary school and by adding classrooms to existing schools by dividing classrooms; converting offices, locker rooms, and hallways into classrooms; renting private buildings; and building new classrooms or adding modular classes. Despite adding nearly 60 classrooms to our existing schools through this “Expand-in-Place” strategy, the schools continue to be severely overcrowded.
On September 26, 2019, the School Committee unanimously approved moving forward with the Long-Term Capital Plan to address Brookline's overcrowded schools, substandard facilities, and historic enrollment growth over the past ten years. Through this plan, the district will renovate and expand the Pierce School through the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) partnership, renovate and expand the Driscoll School, and continue plans to build a new K-8 school at Brookline.