About Yes for Brookline
Pierce Debt Exclusion
The current Pierce School is poorly designed for learning, overcrowded, and violates safety and accessibility standards. While we do not take the planned $209.9M project cost lightly, voting yes on the debt exclusion now will unlock up to $37.8M in state support to fund the cost-effective and long-needed Pierce renovation project reducing the total burden to taxpayers to $172.1M.
Pierce currently educates over 240 students in the higher grades in a single open room with 12 different classes being held simultaneously. Similar open classroom issues pervade the four second grade classrooms, all open to a shared concrete stairwell that reflects sounds throughout all of the rooms.
The poor design is exacerbated by overcrowding, with Pierce now educating 200 more students than originally designed. Students are educated in hallways and closets, must walk through busy classrooms to reach their own classrooms, and lack sufficiently large shared spaces such as the gymnasium and cafeteria. The latter creates challenges such as lunch periods as early as 10:15 a.m., and the inability to host the entire student body in a single location.
The building violates safety and accessibility standards. Electrical and technology-related wiring runs along pipes, railings, and across the floor. Students with physical limitations often cannot go to recess and may be reassigned to other schools.
Voting YES for Pierce will unlock tens of millions of dollars in state matching funds and ensure a fully accessible, modern learning environment for Pierce students.
Brookline has a structural operating budget deficit in which our Town expenses grow faster each year than our Town revenues, given legal limits imposed by a Reagan-era state law called Proposition 2½. Periodic operating overrides are required to temporarily rebalance this equation. As currently proposed, passing the override will increase spending on school maintenance projects townwide, and expand the planning department’s capacity to facilitate a comprehensive Town plan.
Failing to pass the operating override will cause devastating cuts to Town and school services, including layoffs, larger class sizes, and defunding badly needed investments townwide.
Learn more about our campaign team
View the slides from our Campaign Kickoff March 5th, 2023
What is a Proposition 2½ Override?
Proposition 2½, also known as the Massachusetts Local Property Tax Limitations Act, was passed by Massachusetts voters in 1980. The law limits the amount of money towns can raise through property tax increases by capping the annual increase of the tax levy by 2.5%. The “levy” is the amount of revenue that a community can raise through property taxes. Proposition 2½ bars a community from increasing the levy limit by more than 2.5% year to year (the “levy limit”), as well as by more than 2.5% of the total value of all taxable property in that municipality (the “levey ceiling”.)
There are two types of overrides:
Debt exclusion : When the Town needs to fund large capital projects, there is generally not enough funding in the Capital Improvement Plan to cover those costs. Instead, the Town asks voters to approve the purchase of a bond that will be excluded from the rules of Prop 2½ to cover the construction costs, which will then be paid off over a fixed period (usually 25 years.) Payments of that bond will be funded by increases to property taxes, generally starting the year construction begins. That is what ballot measure #1 is asking for now.
Operating Override : General override, Proposition 2½ override, or operating override are different names for the same thing – a permanent increase to property taxes that can be used for both operating and capital expenses, such as paving roads, improving parks, or covering educational costs. To raise revenue by more than 2.5%, voters need to approve an override of Prop 2½, hence the name operating override. That is what ballot measure #2 is asking for now.
Click here to learn more about operating overrides and debt exclusions.
Yes for Brookline urges voters to say YES!