How much will a new Pierce cost?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.  Click here and see slides 2-7 for a comparison of options including costs that were considered in the design process.  These slides are from March 10th, 2023.
Read the MSBA’s approval letter for the Pierce Project. The Town is also working on a tax calculator to calculate how much property taxes will increase on an address by address basis.  Once that calculator has been created, a link will be posted here.
What are conditions currently like at Pierce?
What are “open concept” classrooms?
Why do we need to rebuild Pierce? The current Pierce School does not meet current State of Massachusetts educational standards.  As the result of a failed 1970s experiment, Pierce was built with open (door-less and wall-less) classrooms and insufficient number of very small bathrooms, all within a concrete structure, making even modest renovations very challenging.  
  •  Pierce “Unit A” incorporates 12 classrooms without walls, arranged in multiple open floors around an open library – preventing separation of these spaces in terms of noise and other distractions. This creates an untenable burden for the roughly 250 students and 12 teachers whose primary teaching and learning area is this cavernous space.  In addition, this cavernous space includes the library, used by all Pierce students.  
  • Similar open classroom issues pervade the 4 second grade classrooms in Unit C, which share an open stairwell and lack doors.   
The current Pierce School building is not ADA-compliant in terms of physical accessibility. Beyond legal concerns, these issues create numerous real-world, everyday hardships for Pierce students. 
  • Students with physical limitations and certain learning challenges are reassigned to other schools. 
  • Kids who are injured often cannot go to recess because it takes too long to access the outdoors via the accessibility route. And those students may be unable to access their classrooms, for as long as the injury lasts.  
  • The one elevator for the school is too small to accommodate wheelchairs and does not ascend to the top floor, which is only accessed via stairs.
  • While there are a few ramps in the school, they are too steep, per ADA regulations.
  • Much of the school is inaccessible to disabled family members, who cannot attend teacher conferences  or classroom family breakfasts or other events.
  • No bathroom in the school has doors wide enough to accommodate students, teachers, or family members in a wheelchair.  
Rebuilding Pierce is the most cost-effective way to make Pierce fit the needs of the neighborhood and the Town. 
  • Pierce’s concrete construction does not allow for economical renovation options, for example, plumbing and electrical work cannot be easy laid. 
  • Bathrooms cannot be cost-effectively added or enlarged because of the original concrete construction.  
  • Classrooms cannot be cost-effectively remodeled with doors and walls, because of the concrete construction.  Furthermore, the current classrooms act as hallways, and students walk thru them to get to other parts of the building, disturbing the students who are assigned to those classrooms.  Another renovation challenge is making proper hallways, detracting from space badly needed for classrooms.
  • Pierce was built as a 3 section school, but has been as much as a 4 or 5 section school, which results in serious overcrowding.  
  • Because of the problems cited above, there is no way to expand the number of classrooms or enlarge the cafeteria or auditorium or gymnasium. 
  • Simply stated, it is less expensive to build a new building than fix the significant problems with the existing building.  And the MSBA will not partner with the Town on a renovation, so Brookline will lose up to $37.8M in potential funding.
The current Pierce School is too small to adequately serve our students who live nearby and attend public school–even after pandemic-driven enrollment drop.   The current building is sized for roughly 600 students, but has been serving between 700 and 900 students each year for the last decade-plus.  The proposed new Pierce School would include additional classroom and common space (e.g., cafeteria, gym, auditorium, library, etc.) necessary to serve the neighborhood’s students, a neighborhood that has seen a significant increase in school-aged children over the past 10+ years.  The proposed new Pierce School would be a green, sunlit, high-technology, 21st Century school building, whose construction costs would be partially underwritten by the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s up to $37.8M potential investment in the project.  The project will preserve the historic Pierce Primary building, make it ADA accessible, and tie it more closely into the new spaces. [A demolition permit has been sought because work is required–primarily away from the front facade–to make the ADA accessibility improvements and inter-building connections that are planned, not because Pierce Primary will be fully or even significantly demolished.]
What would a new Pierce look like?Click here and see slides 9-23 for floor plans and exterior drawings of artist’s concepts of what a new Pierce would look like.  A few of the drawings are also shown below.  These slides are from March 10th, 2023.

Operating Override

Why support a prospective operating override?
  1. Brookline has a structural operating budget deficit in which our Town expenses (mostly salaries and benefits for Town employees) grow faster each year than our Town revenues can grow, given legal limits imposed by a Reagan-era state law called Proposition 2 ½.  Periodic operating overrides are required to temporarily rebalance this equation, or else material cuts in Town services must be made.  Our last operating override–designed to last three years–was approved in 2018.
  2. Brookline does not overspend.  In fact, two Override Study Committees in 2014 and 2017–both comprised of resident taxpayers–painstakingly reviewed our budget across all departments (including schools, public safety, public works, etc.) and found no material amount of “fat” that could be trimmed.
  3. Brookline has fallen behind many other cities and towns in the compensation packages we offer to many categories of current and prospective Town employees.  As a result, we have become far less competitive in our recruiting efforts and have encountered increasing difficulty retaining qualified staff.  To attract and retain the high quality of Town staff that we want, we need to pay competitive wages and benefits–which our current Town budget does not allow.
How much will a prospective operating override cost?

The Select Board has yet to finalize the Operating Override amount, but the current estimate is $4.995M for the Town and $6.988M for PSB for a total of $11.983M cumulative over 3 years. Levy increases would go up 2.2%, 1.1%, and 1% each year compounding, so what would be a starting $10,000 tax bill goes to $10,220 in year 1, then $10,332 in year 2, then $10,435 in year 3, and would stay at $10,435 going forward.

What will be included in a prospective operating override?

On February 14th, 2023 two presentation were given at the Select Board meeting outlining what Town and Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) items would be covered by a prospective operating override. Read more here :

  1. Town Operating Override Presentation
  2. PSB Operating Override Presentation

Where do I vote?

Polls are open from 7 AM to 8 PM on election day, May 2, 2023

Click here to registered to vote.

Click here to learn about voting ahead my mail or absentee.

Polling locations can be found by address on the state’s where do I vote? web site, or by precinct in this Town document.