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Allow Brookline to Purchase Pine Manor Property for a 9th School

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Open Letter to Thomas O’Reilly, President of Pine Manor College from parents of children in the Public Schools of Brookline

Dear Mr. O’Reilly,

Our children are among the 7,700 students who attend Brookline’s public schools. Not unlike your students, we come from a remarkably diverse array of backgrounds. More than 30 percent of our kids speak a first language other than English. Like your many international students, they come from over 100 different countries.  Approximately 10 percent are economically disadvantaged. We welcome Brookline employees’ and Boston families through our Materials Fee and METCO programs. Our kindergarteners aren’t much older than the children in your renowned pre-school, and some are even “alumni” of that program. And like Pine Manor, we deeply value rigor in our curriculum, along with citizenship, community and inclusivity.

Based on your experience, we know you understand the complexities and challenges of running a large public school system. You know how passionately parents feel about their children’s pre-school through high school education, how vital that education is to college and lifetime success, and how important school environment is to learning. And in your 15 months at the helm of a private college in Brookline, we’re sure you have observed our town’s struggle to find a site for a 9th elementary school. Our volunteer elected leadership has spent thousands of hours – and parents like ourselves have, as well – attempting to find a suitable location, but there has been no easy answer.  Now you have the opportunity to help, by meeting us with an open mind and a spirit of collaboration.

Mr. O’Reilly, your dedication to Pine Manor College is obvious and inspiring. As your neighbors, we are pleased by your assertions that Pine Manor’s financial difficulties are in the past. As a community that deeply values education, we hope your accreditation agency (NEASC) will remove Pine Manor from probation. We want to see Pine Manor, and its students, succeed. We support you in your mission.

That is why the rhetoric around the town’s interest in obtaining – for fair market value – 7 of Pine Manor’s 45 acres for a public elementary school is so disheartening. Absent from any of your communications, both directly and in the press, is acknowledgment of the incredible opportunities a co-located elementary school and college could offer members of both learning communities. To us, the potential is obvious and exciting – possibilities for educational research, mentorship programs, work experience, the list goes on – with enormous potential benefits to Pine Manor’s students, faculty and administration. There would also be significant financial benefit to Pine Manor. And while we realize some decisions predated your presidency, it is hard for us, as parents, to accept the idea that the private Pine Manor College was willing to sell land to some of the wealthiest people in the country, but is flatly rejecting the idea of welcoming a public elementary school.

Mr. O’Reilly, we urge you to engage in good faith discussions with our town over the land in question. Please keep in mind in your communications and negotiations that all of this is about education, and about children. We are in common cause in wanting the best possible education for your students and our students. Please view us as possible partners in that mission rather than adversaries.


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