Burlington School District voters will decide in November whether to borrow money to build a brand-new high school and technical education center. It’s not clear yet, though, how much money would be on the ballot.
Until last week, the BHS/BTC 2025 project was expected to cost $210 million. That sum would have comprised $181 million for construction and $29 million for PCB chemical remediation that will need to be completed first. However, the district will now shave $20 million from the construction cost by moving some tech center programs to Burlington International Airport.
“This is all going into a package that we’re going to give to the cost estimators shortly, and putting together the final schematic package for the school board and the City Council to review by the end of July, beginning of August,” DRA Architects president Carl Franceschi said Wednesday night at a project design forum.
For a bond issue to go to voters in November, school officials have to present the Queen City with ballot language by August 15. That language will need to specifying an exact amount of money they wish to borrow. They’ve previously said they hope to borrow $150 million.
“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 the building in school year 2025,” Burlington School District superintendent Tom Flanagan said. “So, it’s important that these initial timelines, we meet.”
Flanagan told a Ward 3 resident Wednesday night that the district didn’t want all BTC programs to move to the airport so that students could still take part in high school programs, and at least some tech center programs, in the same location. Nine other school districts in the region send students to Burlington, though, and they factored into the decision.
“Bringing programming into the airport in South Burlington does bring that closer to the sending regions, and we have heard from the regional advisory board and our partners across the region that we should really be considering that,” Flanagan said. “And so if we can get to a place where the programming is literally next door to the work that’s happening, you can imagine all of the opportunities.”
The district already has $25 million of the expected $190 million project cost in hand. If a $150 million bond issue goes before voters and passes, the district will have to raise the remaining $15 million on its own.