BURLINGTON, Vt. – The Burlington School District wants a $70 million bond for major renovations of Burlington High School on the November ballot.
Plans for renovation have been in the works since 2013. They gained momentum in 2017 when the citizen-led Burlington High School ReEnvisioning committee picked up the project.
The current plan calls for the demolition of several buildings and a new building with improved access for students with mobility issues.
Currently, the school’s six academic buildings are connected with unheated, outdoor walkways and outdated elevators in undesirable locations.
The district also wants to improve safety and security, add modern learning spaces, and replace mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems to improve environmental efficiency.
The district says the school’s classrooms are outdated, with science labs insufficient for larger class sizes and STEM equipment in need of replacement.
The school has been giving tours throughout the past week to show the public what needs to be addressed.
Marty Spaulding, director of Property Services for the district, has seen firsthand how difficult it is to navigate the complex, dated campus for those with mobility issues.
“The lack of elevators in each building as well as the lack of restrooms we have across the campus is a big issue,” Spaulding said. “The overall length we have to navigate our furthest out building to our lowest building is also difficult.”
One of the early plans to address the school’s issues was to start from scratch and build a new school, but several obstacles prevented that from happening.
“The location of where that proposed building was going to be was a significant factor,” Spaulding said. “It was going to be very close to North Avenue, also it was going to take up our current baseball field.”
While the $70 million price tag may concern taxpayers, students say renovations are long overdue.
“People who take the hardest classes and may be mobility challenged or just aren’t in great shape have issues,” said Sabin Hart, a student at Burlington High School. “You shouldn’t have to be a track star to make it through high school. As people notice and they talk to friends who have experienced the same things I think the consensus is things really need to move forward.”