The new Driscoll School on Washington Street officially opened on Monday after years of construction.
When Brookline.News visited the new building on Friday, there were just a few final touches in the works as teachers and staff moved in and prepared for their students to join them.
The 58,215 square-foot building has 36 classrooms and the capacity for 800 students, from pre-K through eighth grade. Its floors are color-coded for students in different grades, and the building has two gyms, a multi-purpose room with a stage and theater lighting, and two playgrounds.
The construction costs were $102.1 million, and the latest estimate for the total project cost is $121.4 million.
Voters approved a debt exclusion to temporarily increase property taxes in order pay for the school, in a December 2019 special election in which 59% voted yes. It was part of a “three-school plan” to deal with the then-growing enrollment, which also included rebuilding the Pierce School and renovating the historic Baldwin School. (Overall school enrollment has dropped since 2019 due to the pandemic, and the district is expected to announce its 2023 numbers soon).
Now that students and teachers have moved out of the old Driscoll School, the town will soon start demolishing it. Project manager Andy Deschenes said that the process will start with the parts of the old building which are furthest from the new, and timed so that the closest areas won’t be demolished until students are out of school for the summer.
Eventually, the old school lot will be replaced with playing fields. The town is also planning to build a geothermal heating system for the new school.
Among the new school’s high-tech touches are an advanced emergency alert system which includes LED screens in some rooms, smart whiteboards in every classroom, and a dedicated “makerspace” for students to work on physical projects.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story described the school as costing $102.1 million. That is the cost of construction, but total project costs are higher.