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Burlington, Vermont School Board selects conceptual design for new high school and tech center

Burlington High School conceptual design Option C
Burlington School District
Burlington High School conceptual design Option C

The Burlington, Vermont School Board has selected a conceptual design for a new high school and technical center.

The Burlington High School and Technical Center was permanently closed in September 2020 after PCB contamination was found in the buildings. Students have been attending classes in a converted former department store as the district works to rebuild the school.

The district held a meeting this week to accept one of five conceptual designs.

Superintendent Tom Flanagan said picking a design means the district is deciding the shape and program spaces for the future of the school.

“But there will still be some flexibility and additional key decisions as we move into the next phase of this project, which is called the schematic design. I strongly believe that we need to leave today with a decision on conceptual design and a path forward so that we can meet the needs of our students and ensure that unnecessary delays do not result in escalating costs and a deeper crisis of space for our students. This is another critical moment for us because the future of our district, our city, our region, our state, depends on us to do that.”

Burlington School District Finance and Operations Executive Director Nathan Lavery reviewed the five design options.

“One of the major features of Option A is that it allows continued use of the existing Building A from the currently existing BHS (Burlington High School). Option B it's a more compact scheme. Option C this is a more linear design. And Option C-point-one shifts the entire building slightly east in order to allow for us to continue using Building A during construction. Option D involves removing the current Institute Road to create a more consolidated campus. It also moves the school much closer to North Avenue.”

Superintendent Flanagan said he and the design team recommended Option C because of the benefits of its compact design.

“It also is cost effective. It meets the timeline. It’s energy efficient you know in comparison to the other designs and public feedback gave Option C the highest ratings as well.”

According to a memo from architectural firm Freeman French Freeman, the estimated cost for the five options range from $181.3 million to $196.8 million. Option C has the lowest cost.

A motion was offered to approve that option. North District Commissioner Kendra Sowers likes the compact design and cost factor.

“We're all committed here to talk about the money and really talk about what the state, you know, however we can get funding. And I think it's important we're going to need all of our constituents to really talk to the legislature about the moratorium on capital improvements. We need to get some funding for Burlington. So I'm also choosing option C because of the money, time and what I think is best for our students.”

Board Chair Clare Wool noted they have a responsibility to meet the needs of Burlington students and called for a vote on the motion to accept conceptual Design C.

“This by no means at a conceptual level will lock us into anything., the schematic design phase, the design development, the construction, the bidding, we're a long way away from all those things. But we need to step forward to show that commitment to our students that we want a secure opportunity for the future. So all those in favor of the motion say aye.”

The board members all respond: “Aye.”

“Are there any opposed?" Wool continues, "Are there any abstentions? All right, the motion passes.”

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