A joint board of Selectmen and school committee members voted Thursday night to construct a new elementary school at the Baldwin site. The site was chosen after it received a majority of support from both the five-person Board of Selectmen and the nine-person school committee. The meeting took place in a partially filled Roberts-Dubbs Auditorium before a crowd who listened intently to over two hours of debate.
The board chose the Baldwin site in Chestnut Hill over two other options, one at the Stop and Shop in Coolidge Corner and the other at the Baker School. Before the vote, the boards discussed traffic at all three sites, possible extra congestion at the Baker site due to having two schools on location, the “walkability” of the sites and the possibility of future residential housing complexes near proposed sites.
Chair of the Board of Selectmen Neil Wishinsky and School Committee Chair Susan Wolf-Ditkoff both praised the involvement of the community, acknowledging the fact that there had been vocal opposition and petitions circulated against all three sites.
The Stop and Shop location was the first location eliminated, despite the fact that it was the first choice of five of the nine school committee members. The board then debated the relative merits of the Baldwin and Baker locations. On the first ballot, the school committee voted 6-3 for Baldwin while the Selectmen voted 3-2 for Baker. On the second ballot, the school committee voted in favor of Baldwin by acclamation while the Selectmen 5-0 voted for Baldwin.
The next steps for the school committee include redistricting the elementary school boundaries due to the new school and new enrollment projections. The target timeline currently projects construction to begin in October 2018 and for the school to open in September 2020.