At the December 12 School Committee Meeting, there was a discussion of the School Facilities Master Plan Update and the Superintendent's FY25 School Operating Budget Request.
School Facilities Master Plan Update:
The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) staff has recommended Needham into the eligibility period for the Pollard Middle School Project, contingent on a vote by the MSBA Board on 12/13/23. This is the first step in a potential MSBA partnership. MSBA partnership would mean that the State will share in the Pollard Project cost (MSBA contributed roughly 20% of total project costs for Sunita Williams).
Issues/Concerns at Pollard Middle School that need addressing:
Undersized classroom & core spaces; Fully occupied modular classrooms are at the end of their useful life
Health & safety: not fully sprinklered, ongoing plumbing issues, lack of communication systems, HVAC/air quality, underpowered electrical system, undersized kitchen/servery
ADA non-conforming: doors, narrow stairwells, bathrooms, lecture hall, auditorium
30% Threshold limits ability to sustain building without triggering comprehensive upgrades (ADA, sprinkler, seismic, energy code, etc.)
A comprehensive assessment was done in 2020 to assess infrastructure, educational programming and classroom capacity needs at elementary and middle school levels.
School Master Plan Findings:
Significant building & programming space deficiencies at Pollard and Mitchell
Overcrowding & programming space deficiencies at High Rock
Additional elementary classrooms needed to meet enrollment forecasts
School Master Plan Overview:
Project #1 – Pollard Middle School - Renovate & expand Pollard for Grades 6-8, maintaining benefits of High Rock in combined 6-8 building
Project #2 – Mitchell Elementary School -Construct new 3-section/grade Mitchell School - Students move to vacated High Rock School during construction
Open High Rock as 6th Elementary School
School Master Plan Estimated Cost:
Pollard Project: $313.9M Gross Project Cost
-Making the assumption of MSBA participation at the same rate as the Sunita Williams Elementary school project of ~20% of total project costs, MSBA participation equates to $62M cost savings to Needham taxpayers
Mitchell Project: $147.6M (no MSBA participation, worst case)
High Rock Modifications: $0.4M (not eligible for MSBA funding)
Total Gross Master Plan Cost: $462M (or approximately $400M with MSBA participation in Pollard project only)
This multi-year project will require the support of Town Meeting and the whole Needham community. To learn more about the upcoming Master Plan/Pollard Project:
The NPS website will post updates as the project gets underway.
You can also email the school committee at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Over the next few years there will be many information sessions/forums for parents, Town Meeting members, community groups, Pollard neighbors. You can e-mail the School Committee if you would like a member to come to speak about the project to a community group you are involved in.
Superintendent’s FY25 School Operating Budget Request
Key factors driving the development of a budget request to support the NPS in 2024-25 (FY25)
Enrollment: School enrollment is down from 2019-20 but continues to grow back to pre-pandemic levels; we expect 5,560 PreK-12 students in 2024-25, up about a dozen students.
Inflation: The State continues to raise special education tuition rates to an unprecedented level; district supply costs have increased.
Salaries and Contracts: The cost of providing competitive and fair contracts accounts for the largest portion of the budget request.
Compliance: A recent state audit determined that our staffing and support for English Language Learner students must increase
Infrastructure: Theatre maintenance, school transportation, updates to key IT systems and applications, transportation and athletic subsidies to avoid increased fees require ongoing attention and funding.
Program Improvements: A fraction of the overall request proposes funds to enhance and continue key programs aligned with the Portrait priorities.
A Breakdown of the Superintendent’s FY25 Budget Request:
Total FY25 Budget Request: $97,694,162
Increase over FY24: 6.01%
New Staff Requested: 9.15 FTE
Superintendent’s FY25 Operating Budget Request Next Steps:
December/January - Finance Committee, School Committee & School Administration Review Budget
December 13 – Finance Committee/School Committee budget workshop
January 2 - Town Manager consults with School Committee
January 16 - Public Hearing on School Budget
January 17 - Finance Committee Reviews School Budget
January 23 - School Committee Votes School Budget
Questions regarding the FY25 Budget Request can be sent to the School Committee at email@example.com.
The next School Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 19th at 6:30pm.