Town Meeting approved the appropriation of $650,000 for a feasibility study of the Hillside Elementary School. This study is the next step in the process of partnering with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to rebuild the Hillside School. These funds will only be spent if the Hillside project is accepted into the MSBA's school construction program. If this project is accepted, the feasibility study will be conducted jointly by Needham's Permanent Public Building Committee (PPBC) and the MSBA.
There has been considerable debate in Town about whether or not a new school should be built at Cricket Field, and more recently, about whether or not Cricket Field should even be included in the feasibility study. A 2012 pre-feasibility study identified 3 site options for Hillside - its present location, Cricket Field, or using High Rock as an elementary school and building a new 6th grade school at DeFazio (the full study can be found here). It is the School Committee's position that all options for rebuilding Hillside, including Cricket Field, should be included in any study.
At its October 22nd meeting, a majority of the Board of Selectmen approved a non-binding recommendation that any Town board wishing to study a parcel of land request permission from the Town board that controls that land. Since Cricket Field is under the jurisdiction of the Park and Recreation Commission, the School Committee followed this recommendation and formally asked Park & Rec for permission to study Cricket Field. This request was denied. Citizens for Needham Schools will continue to monitor and report on information related to the progress and scope of the feasibility study, as well as any future public hearings related to this important school building matter.