A Proposition 2 1/2 override is on its way to Brookline voters in May to help fund the high school expansion. During a joint meeting on Feb. 27 the Select Board, School Committee and Building Commission unanimously voted in support of the project scope and schematic design.
The project comes in answer to increasing enrollment and shrinking space at the high school. A focal point of the project is the acquisition of 111 Cypress Street via eminent domain and renovation of the building to create classroom space, which will mostly serve the ninth grade, and multi-use space for the entire school community. In addition the project will include the construction of a new STEM wing at the current Roberts wing site, the renovation of the third floor over the Schluntz Gym, an upgrade to the Tappan Athletic Complex and a renovation of Cypress Field.
“It is an awesome feeling to be so involved in a project that will be so huge for the town,” said Select Person Nancy Heller. “It is an awesome responsibility.”
In answer to concerns that the 111 Cypress St. building would isolate the ninth grade from the rest of the school, the plans for the new building include multi-use space and a “white box” performance space to be available to the entire community. In addition ninth graders are expected to use the rest of the campus for classes like electives and languages. Students in other grades are also expected to attend various classes at 111 Cypress St. as well.
Aiming to unify the entire campus, the architect designed the new building and the renovations of the existing buildings to include a front porch-style design with 111 Cypress opening onto Tappan Street and open entryways at the other buildings.
According to Heller, one of the most complex components of the project will be in creating a crossing over the MBTA tracks so students can access the 111 Cypress Street building from Tappan Street. In order to open the building onto Tappan Street, the town is hoping to obtain the MBTA air rights.
According to Select Board Chair Neil Wishinsky, conversations with the MBTA have been going well.