One of the most important issues facing Precinct 13 voters and all of Brookline is expanding our K-8 schools. It is unfortunate that the badly-needed and long overdue rehab of Driscoll School has been “bundled” into one tax override vote in which voters are being asked to approve upwards of $190 million in an all-or-nothing package that also includes the controversial proposed new Baldwin School.
The location of the proposed new K-8 school at the Baldwin site is problematic on multiple levels. The school would be shoehorned into a site that is simply too small. It is estimated that less than 50 kids live within walking distance to this location — the other 400 will need to be driven or bussed. To overcome legitimate concerns about traffic, the schoolday would start 15 minutes earlier, at 7:45. In addition, parents driving their kids to school would need to leave home as much as a half-hour before school starts due to traffic and then need to queue up in the limited space for dropping off kids. Litigation surrounding the Baldwin site could delay completion for a number of years, even if the Town is ultimately successful. And if it is not, the construction could be stopped altogether or, at the very least, the only outdoor playspace that the kids could use would be on the roof of the building.
Even the need for a ninth K-8 school is far from a settled matter. In recent months, it has become apparent that the School Department’s enrollment projections, which had been developed based on flawed assumptions and using flawed math, have been overstated. The potential acquisition of the Newbury College campus — which Town Meeting has just endorsed by a unanimous vote — offers a far more sensible alternative that will cost much less and become available much sooner.
I have been a consistent voice at Town Meeting for fiscal policies that balance competing priorities, and my active engagement in Town government has produced tangible results. I hope you will do me the honor of giving me one of your votes on May 7th and allowing me to continue to represent you and our precinct in Town Meeting.