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Do you want to pay $62 Million for a school that can't be filled?
Currently New Hunnewell is the most expensive elementary school, per square foot, in the state, compared to recently completed schools. The recommended redistricting maps place 289 students at Hunnewell, for a 70% utilization capacity. The MSBA guidelines suggest running schools at 85%. Hunnewell is being proposed as a 19-classroom school, but this means only 15 classrooms may be utilized (which is the size of current Hunnewell).
Weston built a brand new elementary school for $31 million in 2014 ($34 million when adjusted for inflation). Why is the school committee imposing on us a huge tax override for $62 million for Hunnewell that is clearly being built too large?
Even the brand new GI-NORMOUS Sunita Williams School in Needham does not have the excessive breakout spaces (extra rooms/spaces in which students can collaborate) as our plans do. Breakout spaces are being mandated by the Superintendent’s Education Plan, yet remaining schools will not have nearly as many of these spaces.
Three smaller less expensive elementary schools is the answer
School Committee said, “We can't possibly afford to rebuild all three schools." Not if we build 3 schools the size of Hunnewell. But we can make them smaller and consider renovation on some sites. This prevents an increase of traffic, preserves neighborhood walkability, avoids extensive redistricting and keeps us prepared for the future.
If they close a school, what will happen to the land? Rebuilding a new preschool (PAWS) has already been studied and suggested for a vacated HHU site. So it seems we’d be building 3 schools even with the current plan (two of them each almost double the size of Roche Brothers!). That’s about $120 million now... and then, later, how many more million for a new preschool?
Our current elementary schools are ranked some of the highest in the state and are awarded for exceeding achievement expectations.
How do we justify the Superintendent's Educational Plan (requiring 19-classroom schools with excessive breakout space for successful 21st century learning, which doubles the square footage of Hunnewell) when some of our current schools currently receiving top rankings and accolades have only 15 classrooms and 45,000 SF? Does size equal quality?