Brookline School Committee greenlights low-carbon building project

The Brookline School Committee prioritizes green energy in new Pierce School renovations project.


The Brookline School Committee prioritizes green energy in new Pierce School renovations project.

The Brookline School Committee (BSC) met virtually via Zoom on Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. to present new data on staff retention in the Public Schools of Brookline (PSB) and review the Preferred Schematic Report (PSR) for the Pierce School renovations.

This school year, hiring rates for teachers and paraprofessionals have decreased. The racial demographics of PSB staff are also disproportionate to the student population. Director of Human Resources Tye’sha Fluker said PSB has begun to consider implementation of new measures to combat staff loss, particularly with educators of color.

“It is very important to me to not only observe but also see how we can build a strong foundation so that once we get these systems and processes in place and running smoothly, we can have a more efficient process for our employees,” Fluker said.

Senior Director of Equity Jenee Uttaro said retention is also an important aspect of working to fix the unrepresentative demographics of PSB staff.

“We put a lot of energy into hiring and then we drop the ball, so we’ve really focused on the retention and thinking about what we need to do as we recruit and hire diverse candidates to make sure that their experiences here are better so that they stay,” Uttaro said.

The BSC reviewed the final PSR, which was created for the Pierce School renovations project by design firms Miller Dyer Spears Architects and Sasaki. The PSR outlines plans to update the historical building, remove the main Pierce School building built in the 1970s and construct an updated school. The tentative date for the start of construction is spring of 2024.

A main priority for the new building is sustainability and green construction. Senior Associate Director of Sustainability and Resilience for Sasaki Tamar Warburg said this may include solar panels and low carbon materials to reduce the carbon footprint.

“Brookline has made this real leadership commitment to purchasing more and more green power every year. The combination of really thoughtful design plus Brookline’s leadership policy for green power purchase can really get us to that point where the curve flattens out and, over time, the buildings stop emitting,” Warburg said.

The BSC gave the Spotlight on Excellence award to freshman Alex Bakum, an ambassador to Project 351 from Brookline. Project 351 is a service-based and student-focused initiative to address poverty and support change led by young people.

Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Lesley Ryan Miller was the principal of Pierce when Bakum attended elementary school there. Miller said Bakum’s hard work and personality made him successful in both the Pierce community and Project 351.

“There was no doubt in our minds that he would be a wonderful nominee for this position. There are so many ways he’s demonstrated leadership, responsibility, respect for others, kindness,” Miller said. “We knew when Alex was selected he would do a fantastic job representing the Town of Brookline, the PSB community and his family.”