Burlington School Board approves location for new high school
The Burlington, Vermont School Board has decided on a site to build a new school to replace buildings that are contaminated with PCB’s.
Burlington High School and Technical Center buildings were closed in September 2020 after officials found PCB contamination higher than recommended by the EPA and the state Health Department. The district had been in the initial phase of a renovation and modernization project. Students attended classes remotely.
In early March 2021, in person classes began in a renovated and temporarily leased former Macy’s department store in downtown Burlington. Meanwhile officials were considering options and decided to build a new school. The search began for an appropriate site.
During Tuesday’s Burlington School Board meeting Superintendent Tom Flanagan presented his final location recommendation to the board.
“We did a serious review of the entire city and all of the possible sites. So after that serious review in which we looked more closely, very closely at 16 sites over the past six months, and we have weighed the site evaluations, feedback from the community and our own assessment of the educational needs of our community," said Flanagan. "So I am recommending to you that we move forward with Institute Road North as our site for Burlington High School and Technical Center.”
Institute Road North is where the current contaminated buildings are located. Flanagan explained why it is the best option to build a new facility.
“Institute Road North emerged as the clear front runner for a number of reasons. Its proximity to the city, the lake and the woods makes it an ideal learning environment. Our entire program fit in the space. It is highly accessible for multiple modes of transit. It allows for a construction timeline most likely to meet our ambitious August 2025 opening target. And it is the most fiscally responsible option that we see in front of us.”
A motion to select the location was briefly discussed. Commissioner Polly Vanderputen supports the location but is concerned about building so near to the contaminated site.
“My only hesitation is the simultaneous dismantling of the previous site and I hope that we are able to ensure that there’s no crossover of any kind.”
Board Chair Clare Wool read a statement after the board approved the location for the new school.
“We believe that not having a permanent high school and technical center puts our city in a state of emergency and needs to be a top priority when making financial decisions. Following this decision to move forward with the north side of Institute Road our goal is put a bond for the new high school on the ballot in November of 2022. At this point in the process we do not yet know the amount of the planned bond.”