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Burlington school officials and design team hold forum on new high school design

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

The Burlington, Vermont School Board has chosen a design for a new high school and technical center to replace current PCB-laden buildings. The selection moves the process into a schematic design phase, and officials recently held an in-person and virtual forum to discuss what that means for the project.

The design team presented five conceptual design options in April and the Burlington school board chose the least expensive and most efficient of the five to build a new high school and technical center complex.

As Superintendent Tom Flanagan reviewed the history of the project he also explained the significance of moving to the schematic design phase.

“We’re in a position where we need to act now to make sure that we meet our timeline of an August 2025 building. We have a lease at the current building we’re in. But that lease doesn’t go forever and so we do need to be in a building in school year 2025 and so it’s important that these initial timelines we meet.”

The original estimate for the chosen option was $181 million plus an additional $30 million to remediate and demolish existing buildings. The district plans to set aside $10 in American Rescue Plan funds, $5 million from a district surplus and $10 million from a 2017 capital plan. There is a $150 million bonding cap, so Flanagan explained that to close a $35 million funding gap the design has been further modified.

“What we decided was to relocate the programs that we have in our technical center that have high bays. So they have those doors that open to the ceiling. They are bigger spaces than a typical classroom space and there’s a lot more work that needs to go into the infrastructure around them and so moving those out saves funding. Senator Leahy’s office awarded us a grant of $10 million to build at the airport. So I think this does a number of things. It puts our students closer to the work that’s actually happening, it saves money on the project at Institute Road and it helps us build workforce development.”

DRA Architects President Carl Franceschi provided a detailed overview of the current design and explained that moving the larger elements of the technical center means the footprint of the building has shrunk, but the basic elements of the design concept has been retained.

“With a consolidated footprint it provides not only future expansion for the high school, which we always have designed in as a prudent measure, but now it allows for future expansion at the tech center. So we’re happy with the way the plan has progressed and it seems to as we say capture all the same elements of Option C and does it in a more compact footprint now.”

The school district is scheduled to provide an update on the project to the Burlington City Council on July 18th. In August final designs and a bond proposal will be presented to the school board. If approved it will be forwarded to the city council to decide if it should be placed on the November ballot.

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