Driscoll Construction Shameful Now

I made a post recently on a Facebook “Brookline Schools group” with a comment that the Driscoll construction project is shameful, but didn’t elaborate. I’ll do so now, here.

tldr; It obvious that the empty Newbury College is where the kids should go during construction.

Doing the Driscoll project now is shameful, yes. Why?

It’s a pandemic. 

Would you want your kids’ outdoor space turned into a construction zone? Do you want your kids eating in a classroom without open windows? Is it safe for the kids with construction dust?

It’s the first time Brookline is keeping young kids onsite during a construction. Every other project moved kids offsite without a pandemic. Are the Driscoll kids not worth the effort spent on Runkle, Heath, and Devotion/Florence Ridley, 9th graders from BHS.

Are you getting blunt honest feedback from folks in the building on these topics?

In front of their bosses, their employers, these employees are saying “everything is fine” when asked about handling the disruption from a school building project.

This Dec 17th meeting note covers the question “is there enough outdoor space for the kids during construction? Answer “yes, because we are doing hybrid schooling”. So that’s a “no, there won’t be enough outdoor play space for when all kids are back in school”.

Everything is not fine.

It’s shameful because it’s so incredibly obviously a crappy thing to do to the people in and around the building. Now. During a pandemic.

Think about it. Are they going to call out their employer in a public setting? They are going to put a good face on it. “We’ll figure it out”.

Have you spent some time in the schools?  Have you chatted with anyone in a hallway, gotten an honest view into how they are doing?

I am not claiming to speak for them; these are simply my observations. They are incredulous that the project is going forward. They are exhausted, stressed out, emotionally spent but valiantly doing their jobs.

The school esprit-de-corp is at a perilous state. Anyone new this year hasn’t had a parent-teacher breakfast. No parent has chit chatted at drop off. 6 parents showed up to the recent  “principal search” meeting. There aren’t enough parent volunteers or FTEs to keep the VP or Principal from covering lunch shifts in the cafeteria when they should be doing … literally anything else.

All the reserves of good will, community, bonding that make the disruption from a typical school building project bearable are not there. 

Instead they are told to suck it up, do the first onsite school “occupied” construction project in Brookline. 

BTW – there is no permanent leadership. Both the principal and vice-principal are interim. I assume they’d like to have a shot at the permanent full time job. How big a wave do you expect them to make to their hiring committee?  (It would be great for the Driscoll community if both Mr Youkilis and Ms Bartley did get those permanent positions – both because they know the job and the community could use some continuity).

I don’t even have a kid in the building this year, for the first time in 13 years straight. 3 kids, 2 years apart, from BEEP through 8th grade. There aren’t a lot of people in the building longer. But there are some. Chat with them. Or with new folks in a quick hallway or classroom chat. Please. Get a pulse on the situation.

We need to move beyond a “this is just another go from the folks who alway wanted to stop the project” take.

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