9th Elementary School - Final Site Selection Process

Final Site Selection Process:  October 2015 - October 2016

 

This September and October, the School Committee and Board of Selectmen will complete the most recent public input process that began in October 2015 and make the final site selection for a 9th elementary school in Brookline. Final site selection is scheduled to happen on October 13. Currently the 9th Elementary School Site Selection Study of the Beverly Road, Baldwin/Soule, and Brookline Village sites is underway. 

Since October 2015 there have been 14 open and public meetings where community members have been able to learn about, participate in, and provide input about site selection for the new PK-8 elementary school. In September and October 2016, there will be 5 more public meetings to provide the public with information about the sites under consideration and to get additional community input. Please see the meeting schedule below and please attend one or more of the upcoming meetings.

The current site selection process is the next step in the multi-year effort to address the ongoing and dramatic expansion of student enrollment in our town’s public schools. Since 2005, K-8 enrollment in Brookline has increased by 40%, from 3,896 students to 6,193 students with more growth to come. Since 2008, the town and schools have addressed our enrollment increases by adding 54 classrooms to our existing K-8 schools, but we are still facing overcrowding and growing class sizes.
   
 Date     Public Meeting  Time and Location
September 8, 2016
Joint Meeting of the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee
Presentation of the 9th Elementary School Site Selection Study by Jonathan Levi Architects. At this meeting public input will be collected through written and electronic means.  

   -- JLA Presentation of Site Selection Study

7:00 p.m.
Town Hall
6th floor 
 
Additional seating on 5th floor
September 14, 2016
Open House on the 9th Elementary School Site Selection
Town and School officials and staff will provide information on the 9th School Selection Study, answer questions, and solicit input from community members.
8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m
Baker School
Beverly Road 
September 22, 2016
Public Hearing on the 9th Elementary School Site Selection      
The School Committee and Board of Selectmen hold a Public Hearing to hear public comments on the 9th school. Written input will also be collected.  
7:00 p.m.
Town Hall
6th floor 
 
Additional seating on 5th floor 
September 28, 2016
Open House on the 9th Elementary School Site Selection
Town and School officials and staff will provide information on the 9th School Selection Study, answer questions, and solicit input from community members.
6:30 p.m - 8:00 p.m. Pierce School
 
October 13, 2016
Joint Board Meeting to Make Final Site Selection
The Board of Selectmen and the School Committee will meet to vote on final site selection for the 9th Elementary School in Brookline.  
8:00 p.m.
Brookline High School 

 

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Email a question or comment regarding the 9th School Site Selection Process. Comments will be forwarded to the Board of Selectmen & School Committee.

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Summary of Prior Public Meetings
 

September 14, 2016 Open House at Baker School 

More than 80 community members joined elected officials and staff from the Town and School Department at Baker School for an Open House about the 9th Elementary School Site Selection on the morning of September 14th.

The informal Open House format allowed participants to speak directly to and engage in conversation with the elected officials who will make the final decision on a site on October 13. Representatives from Jonathan Levi Architects including their traffic engineer spoke to the entire assembled crowd to address concerns about traffic, parking, and drop off. The architects and engineer also answered direct questions from the participants.

Site concept drawings, enrollment growth information, and the Site Study Selection Criteria were displayed throughout the Baker cafeteria at different stations. Participants chose which stations they visited and had a chance to ask questions of the elected leaders and staff members who were at that station.
 
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September 8, 2016 Joint Board Meeting - School Site Selection Study Report

On September 8, the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee launched the final public input process leading up to site selection for a 9th elementary school by having a joint board meeting to on the 9th School Site Selection Study. More than 120 community members turned out at this meeting to hear Jonathan Levi of Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA) present the findings of the study of the three sites under consideration: Beverly Road, Baldwin School, and Village School (Stop and Shop site).

Mr. Levi shared the results of the study comparing the sites across 38 different criteria and also presented broad cost ranges for all three sites. He shared again illustrative site concepts designed to demonstrate how buildings could potentially be placed on each site. During and after the presentation, Selectmen and School Committee members asked questions and discussed in depth their impressions of each site. Mr. Levi’s firm concluded that all three sites were appropriate for and had the physical capacity to support a school while also describing some of the specific complexities each site presented.

8 Sites Removed from Consideration “for now”

Also on September 8, assured that the three finalist sites were viable, the boards considered a motion to remove other sites from consideration at this time. Each board held a separate vote to remove these sites from consideration at this time. In doing so, they were clear that these sites could potentially be considered at a later date.
    • Cottage Farm
    • Old Lincoln
    • Isabel School and Larz Anderson
    • Harvard Street Site (TJ Maxx)
    • Centre Street (Coolidge Corner)
    • Bournewood Hospital
    • Pine Manor
    • Putterham Meadows
The boards also announced additional meetings with Town Commissions and Departments where site selection for a new elementary school would be discussed.
    • Building Commission – September 13
    • Park and Recreation Commission – September 13
    • Advisory Committee (and subcommittees) – Sept 13, 20
    • Conservation Commission – September 20
    • Planning Board – September 21
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July 26, 2016 Joint Board Meeting - Update on Progress of Site Selection Study
On July 26, the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee held the 14th public meeting since October 2015 on site selection for the 9th elementary school. More than 120 community members attended and heard Jonathan Levi of Jonathan Levi Architects provide the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee with a progress report on the Site Selection Study. Mr. Levi provided preliminary ideas for how a school could be sited at the Baker Road, Baldwin/Soule, and Brookline Village sites. The meeting was broadcast live on BIG TV.
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June 14, 2016 meeting to Kick Off Site Selection Study

 


More than 100 community members attended the public meeting to kick off the 9th School Site Selection Study. Jonathan Levi Architects (JLA), the architectural firm doing the site selection studies update attendees about the work they will be doing and also gathered community input on the three sites being studied during summer 2016. More than 30 community members spoke during the evening. 
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June 7, 2016 Joint Board Meeting on the 9th Elementary School:

The Board of Selectmen and the School Committee received an update on the Site Selection Study that is starting and reviewed the timeline for selecting a site in October 2016 for a 9th K-8 elementary school.  Nearly 50 community members attended this meeting. 
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May 18, 2016 Public Meeting on the 9th Elementary School

 

There will be a public meeting to update community members about the site selection process for a new K-8 elementary school in the Pierce School Auditorium on May 18th at 7:00 p.m. All parents, guardians, and community members are invited to attend. 

At the meeting there will be a presentation on the current timeline for site selection and construction of a 9th K-8 elementary school, an update on the site studies that will be conducted on three sites, and an update on the Village School site that is under consideration. There will also be time for questions and answers. The meeting will take place at the Pierce School Auditorium on May 18th at 7:00 p.m.

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March 16, 2016 Update


The Park & Recreation Commission held a public hearing on March 15th at 7:00 p.m. at Town Hall on sites being considered for the 9th elementary school. The meeting included discussion of public school needs, park and recreation needs, and sites in South Brookline that are under consideration including the Baldwin School, Baker School and the Putterham Meadows Golf Course. 

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March 8, 2016 Update


During the past two weeks at separate meetings, the School Committee, the Board of Selectmen, and the Advisory Committee all voted unanimously to proceed with the process for the 9th Elementary School and Brookline High School renovation and expansion without submitting a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority to allow for more flexibility in the design processes and the timelines for the projects. 

Town Counsel has provided a second memo and and additional documentation relative to Article 97for sites being considered for the 9th elementary school including Putterham Meadows Golf Course. The January 21 memo regarding regarding Article 97 considerations in the document linked here.
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February 5, 2016 Update


The School Committee’s Capital Subcommittee met on Thursday, February 4th, followed by a joint meeting of the School Committee and Board of Selectmen, and discussed next steps in the search for a site on which to build a ninth K-8 elementary school. The outcome of the joint board meeting was a decision to move ahead with a study of three sites to be funded out of the classroom capacity CIP budget. In parallel, work will continue on several other fronts including legal, enrollment projections, and meetings with other town boards, community groups, and land owners. No formal vote was taken with the understanding that this decision served as a "first reading” and that there will be further process and confirmation once a more defined scope of work for the studies has been defined in an RFP.
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January 21, 2016 Update


Tonight the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee discussed an update on sites under consideration for a 9th elementary school. Interim Superintendent Joe Connelly provided an update on the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s decision on the district’s Statement of Interest for the renovation and expansion of Brookline High School. Economic Development Director Kara Brewton presented additional detail on the six sites identified by the November 2015 Civic Moxie study Ms. Brewton also updated the boards on the potential consideration of sites in South Brookline including Baker School and Pine Manor College. In addition the boards discussed a memo from town legal counsel Joslin Murphy regarding Article 97 considerations. Timelines for selecting finalist sites were discussed and the boards intend to meet again in early February.

December 15, 2015 Update 

On December 15th, the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee held a joint meeting on the 9th Elementary School Study. The boards discussed the significant and varied input they have heard from community members over the past two months. Economic Development Director Kara Brewton presented a summary of the comments and suggestions captured from two Open Houses, the December 3rd Public Hearing, hundreds of emails, and meetings with the Advisory Committee, the Preservation Commission, the Parks and Open Space Commission, the Conservation Commission, and numerous neighborhood groups. Interim Superintendent of Schools Joe Connelly presented slides on Brookline's continued enrollment growth and the impact on existing schools of not building a 9th elementary school. Nearly 100 residents attended the two-hour meeting. The boards will be scheduling another joint meeting in January. 

December 3, 2015 Update

On December 3, the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee held a public hearing on the 9th Elementary School Study. The board released the timeline for the full process for further studying finalist sites. More than 150 residents attended and heard comments from 52 Brookline citizens. 


Background


On the evening of October 22, 2015, the Brookline’s School Committee and Board of Selectmen reviewed the Ninth Elementary School Site Identification Study and discussed the need for a new school. At the October 22nd joint Before the end of the meeting both boards separately voted on and approved the following two motions:
  1. Construction of a ninth school is the preferred solution to addressing continued enrollment growth in elementary grades in the Brookline Public Schools. Staff is directed to conduct further planning and analysis in support of this decision.
  2. Staff is directed to focus their efforts for additional due diligence and analysis, at this time, on the following two sites identified in the Ninth Elementary School Site Identification Study:  Cottage Farm and the Isabel School.

To help fully inform as many community members as possible, members of the Board of Selectmen, the School Committee as well as staff from the Public Schools and Planning and Community Development Department will hold additional meetings and open houses. All members of the public are encouraged to attend these sessions to learn more about the possibility of new elementary school in Brookline and have your questions answered. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, November 3rd: Public Health Building, Denny Room, 6-9 p.m.
11 Pierce Street Lower Level
Open-House Format, including School/Building/Planning Staff and Board/Committee members

Thursday, November 12th: Town Hall, 5th Floor School Committee Room, 7-9 a.m.
333 Washington Street
Open-House Format, including School/Building/Planning Staff and Board/Committee members

Thursday, December 3rd: Town Hall, 6th Floor Selectmen's Hearing Room, 7:30 p.m. 
333 Washington Street
Public Hearing Format

Tuesday, December 15th: Town Hall, 6th Floor Selectmen's Hearing Room, 6:00 p.m. 
333 Washington Street
Joint Meeting of the Board of Selectmen and School Committee
(meeting is being held during the regularly scheduled Board of Selectmen meeting)


View the Civic Moxie Study.

View the presentation of the Civic Moxie Study before the Board of Selectmen and School Committee
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers (click on each question or scroll down to see the answers.)

  1. What is the overview of the school district's enrollment growth?
  2. What is the timeline for building a 9th elementary school? 
  3. What will happen if we don't build a new 9th elementary school?
  4. Why did the school district wait this long to address the enrollment growth?
  5. What areas in the Town have the largest school population? 
  6. How do we know this isn't just a population bubble? 
  7. Did the study and site proposals take into account the proposed large-scale residential developments in the town?
  8. Why are we considering a 550-student school? How did we arrive at that number? 
  9. Will enrollment be reduced in existing schools with the 9th school? 
  10. Will all 8 options alleviate the current schools' enrollments in the same way?
  11. Should Brookline consider building two new elementary schools? 
  12. How many sites are still under consideration by the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee? 
  13. What happens when you narrow it down to two or three final sites?
  14. Why don’t we build a middle school instead of another K-8 school? 
  15. What impact will the proposed sites have on the socio-economic balance across the elementary schools in the district? 
Site Specific Questions
Harvard Street School
  1. Would we have to preserve the parking on the TJ Maxx site?
Isabel School (Larz Anderson site)
  1. Is Larz Anderson protected as open space?
  2. If the proposed open space restriction boundary were not in place, would you be able to have a better-fit school site plan? What other restrictions are there with this parcel?
  3. Why is the Isabel School shown within the bounds of the Town of Brookline? Could it extend over the boundary?
Mixed-Use Site Questions
  1. Are timelines much larger for mixed use schools? The mixed-use sites shown in the study generally have more complex phasing requirements. What does that mean? 
High School Related Questions
  1. What is happening with the possible expansion of Brookline High School? Will it be expanded at the current site or a new site? 
  2. How do the high school process and the process for building a 9th elementary school overlap?
Eminent Domain Questions
  1. Click here for the FAQs related to eminent domain
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
1. What is the overview of the school district's enrollment growth?  
The number of students in Brookline’s schools has grown dramatically in the last eight years.  Over the last five years we have added an average of 206 students per year. Since 2005 Brookline’s K-8 enrollment has increased by 1,570 students. Recent enrollment projections indicate this enrollment growth will continue. Enrollments for K-8 are projected to increase by an additional 727 students through the 2020-2021 school year. Enrollments for grades 9-12 are projected to increase by 451 students over that same time period. Over the last eight years we have addressed the need to add classrooms by: building school additions; leasing modular classrooms; renting space for classrooms; dividing larger classrooms into smaller ones; converting hallways, locker rooms, and small rooms into substandard classroom spaces; re-locating administrative offices into rental space; and taking classrooms previously dedicated to BEEP, Extended Day, and other programs.  

2.  What is the timeline for building a 9th elementary school?
The best-case scenario timeline is to have a new elementary school built by the 2020-2021 school year. The first major milestone in this timeline will be for the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee to make a final site selection in October 2016. Currently site studies on three locations will begin spring/summer 2016. These studies will be completed by September at which time another round of Public Hearings, Open Houses, and Joint Board of Selectmen/School Committee meetings will take place to allow for more community input—ending with final site selection in October.

3. What will happen if we don't build a new 9th elementary school? 
  • There will be more overcrowding in our schools.
  • K-8 class sizes will continue to increase with the possibility of having an average class size of 24 students and more than 75 elementary classes with 25 or more students. (Presently we only have seven classrooms with 25 or more students.)
  • We will need to continue our reliance on the use of expensive, short-term solutions such as renting modular classrooms and renting other non-school facilities. Currently PSB pays approximately $1million for rented space each year. 
  • These short-term solutions do not address inadequate core facilities such as gymnasiums, cafeterias, and libraries, which cannot support the growing enrollment. 
  • Undersized cafeterias at schools will require five or more lunch periods per day resulting in all schools starting lunch at or before 10:30 a.m. We already have 2 schools that start lunch before 10:30 a.m. and two more that start lunch before 11:00 a.m. 
  • Within five years we will have a shortage of between 27 and 30 classrooms across the district. 
4. Why did the school district wait this long to address the enrollment growth?
  • The school district has been actively addressing enrollment growth through school remodeling and expansion since 2008. 
  • Since 2008, we have renovated and/or enlarged several existing schools, including the Runkle School, the Heath School, and the Lawrence School. In July we will start building a brand new Devotion School. 
  • We have added modular classrooms at the Baker School, and are renting space in a local office building for three classrooms at Pierce.  
  • The 9th elementary school is the next step in the Town’s long-range plan to address the ongoing PreK-12 enrollment growth, and return BEEP and other classrooms from rented space.   
  • There have been four studies and facilities plans since 2008 that have detailed the need and attempted to address the ongoing growth.  
5.  What areas in the Town have the largest school population?
The area in North Brookline that is currently served by the Devotion, Driscoll, Lawrence, and Pierce Schools currently has the largest school-age population. At the same time, projections anticipate some of the largest growth to occur in South Brookline.

6. How do we know this isn't just a population bubble? 
We have replaced smaller graduating class enrollments with larger kindergarten class enrollments for the last 8 consecutive years with no indication this trend will not continue for at least 6 more years before leveling off.

7.  Did the study and site proposals take into account the proposed large-scale residential developments in the town?
Yes, the study accounted for the anticipated future developments at 86 Dummer Street, 45 Marion Street, The Residences of South Brookline, 111 Cypress Street, and Crowninshield Road. When we update enrollment projections in our annual enrollment report this fall, we will add the recently filed residential developments at Puddingstone (South Brookline), 40 Centre St, and 420 Harvard St.  

8.  Why are we considering a 550-student school? How did we arrive at that number?
At the time the Civic Moxie study was commissioned, earlier enrollment projections suggested a need for an additional 22 to 26 classrooms for up to 550 students. More recent projections completed in October 2015 by the School District, which include anticipated residential developments, also support the need for additional classrooms. In fact, the October 2015 enrollment projection suggests there may be a need for as many as 28 to 31 classrooms. The Board of Selectmen and School Committee will consider the most recent data and information as the process continues.

9.  Will enrollment be reduced in existing schools with the 9th school? 
Building a 9th elementary school will address Brookline’s total K-8 classroom needs. The impact on enrollment in other schools will vary depending on which site is chosen and the size of the 9th school. A 9th elementary school will require redistricting of existing school assignment boundary lines. The school assignment examples in the report are preliminary models that will need to be refined.

10.  Will all 8 options alleviate the current schools' enrollment in the same way? 
All site options use the same building and program assumptions if a traditional school model is constructed. This means the eight sites alleviate the school enrollment challenges in the same way. If a concept/themed based school model is explored, it would alleviate the schools' challenges in much the same way except for the student-school assignment modeling which may look different because the school would be drawing students from across the Town. 

11.  Should Brookline consider building two new elementary schools?
The most recent enrollment projections show the need for additional classrooms to for as many as 650 new students. Current enrollment projections indicate the K-8 student population will level off once every grade reaches 600+ students. The district expects to reach this level in 2022. As a result, it is felt that a 9th school, which will address the need for up to 650 students, will be adequate.

12.  How many sites are still under consideration by the Board of Selectmen and the School Committee?
The Board of Selectmen and School Committee identified six sites from the Civic Moxie study. After gathering public input through open houses, a public hearing, email and web-based submissions, and neighborhood meetings, the Boards responded by adding two sites in South Brookline: Beverly Road (Baker) and Baldwin/Soule Recreation Center. These two sites, plus the original six Civic Moxie sites are all still under consideration 

13.  What happens when you narrow it down to two or three final sites?
Once two or three final sites are selected further study will happen. The town will undertake further review of each site including environmental impact, traffic and transportation, and site studies. This information will help make a final site decision. No further action will be taken until these studies are completed for the finalist sites.

14.  Why don’t we build a middle school instead of another K-8 school?
Brookline’s existing neighborhood schools already offer a strong middle school program within their K-8 structure. Moving to a middle school structure will not reduce the need for an additional school in Brookline. Regardless of the grade configuration, enrollment projections now show that Brookline needs to add upwards of 30 classrooms over the next five years.Also the number of middle school students in Brookline works against building a single middle school. A middle school in Brookline for our 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students would have nearly 1,800 students in it, making it one of the largest middle schools in the state.

15.  What impact will the proposed sites have on the socio-economic balance across the elementary schools in the district?
Every effort will be made to establish school assignment boundary lines that produce socio-economic balance across all schools.

Site-Specific Questions: Harvard St School

1. Would we have to preserve the parking on the TJ Maxx site? Would they be willing to give that up?
The Harvard Street School option retains the existing TJ Maxx store but will reconfigure the store and bank parking in the underground garage below the new school building. The existing bank can relocate into the ground floor retail uses in the new school building. TJ Maxx and the bank need parking to function as a business. The property must also comply with Town of Brookline zoning requirements and any acquisition of part of the property by the Town cannot result in a non-conforming use for the TJ Maxx portion of the site. So…the answer is yes, all of the parking must be retained/rebuilt on site.

Site-Specific Questions: Isabel School

1.  Is Larz Anderson protected as open space?
Isabel Anderson donated the land to the town "for purposes of public recreation, or for charitable purposes, or for purposes of public education" in 1951. The property is individually listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. There is also a 1998 Massachusetts Historic Commission Preservation Restriction for the top of the hill. Fall Town Meeting Warrant Article 6 proposes to dedicate 55.05 acres of the Larz Anderson site for public park purposes under the provisions of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 45, Section 3, and authorize said land to be under the care, custody, management and control of the Town’s Department of Public Works, Parks and Open Space Division. The conceptual school siting shown in the report is not within the proposed restriction area. The siting is on an area of the park that currently houses the DPW shed and building department shed and asphalt parking areas that are host to maintenance vehicles and snow plows. Additionally, there may be a possible restriction on the use of land at Larz Anderson Park resulting from a federal grant back in 1975 to repair the Skating Rink; research is ongoing.

2. If the proposed Article 97 open space restriction boundary were not in place and further research found that the 1975 federal grant did not include additional restrictions, would you be able to have a better-fit school site plan? What other restrictions are there with this parcel?
The school site is in between the area between the proposed open space restriction boundary and the Town of Brookline/City of Boston property line (staff believes it will be easier to operate a School building and associated building maintenance if the building is entirely within the Town of Brookline). While the team believes a school will work on the site shown, it is not necessarily the best site and discussions with all stakeholders, including open space advocates, preservation staff, etc., could very well result in a better site plan that could accomplish multiple objectives that might include restoration of the former landscape, inclusion of other uses or needs of the Town, and better school-open space relationship. This scheme has the ability to become a dynamic campus that could respect the open space while making the park more accessible to school children and the wider community. The area to the north of the conceptual school site, including the skating rink area, but not the crest of the hill, where the Anderson house once stood, is a protected area and building in this location in the park is not possible without many discussions with Massachusetts Historic Commission.

3. Why is the Isabel School shown within the bounds of the Town of Brookline? Could it extend over the boundary?
If the school building were to be on City of Boston property, even though this property is owned by the Town of Brookline, the City of Boston would have permitting authority over the building, or portion of the building on City land. In this site option shown in the report, the DPW shed is relocated to the City of Boston portion of the site as this is the most logical place for that building and this structure would indeed be subject to City of Boston land use regulations.

Mixed-Use Site Questions

1.  Are timelines much larger for mixed use schools? The mixed-use sites shown in the study generally have more complex phasing requirements.
What does that mean?
It means that ongoing partnerships are needed with the property owners in some cases, and that temporary parking must be provided as existing parking areas are redeveloped. All of these things mean that yes, timelines are longer for these options. The additional time necessary would depend on the complexity of the scheme as well as other development decisions that would need to be made.





  1. Presentations
9th Elementary School Site Identification Study Presentation 10/22/2015
Video of 10/22/2015 Presentation (courtesy of Brookline Interactive Group)

  1. 9th Elementary School Study