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SC Meeting: December 12, 2023

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: 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

The next School Committee meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 19th at 6:30pm.


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