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Burlington School District presents options for BHS contamination

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 12:53 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2020 at 5:49 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington School District officials are weighing three options for returning students to in-person learning after Burlington High School was forced to close last month because of PCB contamination.

Superintendent Tom Flanagan and School Commission Chair Clare Wool presented the alternatives to the Burlington City Council Monday night. The first option is to return to BHS for some in-person classes while remediation occurs and the school’s remodeling project continues as planned.

The second option is to move to an alternate space for two to three years as remediation is underway and the remodeling continues. Once the construction is finished, they would move back into the high school.

The third option is to move to an alternate space for two to three years while building a new high school and tech center at the school’s current site or in a new location.

During the presentation, City Councilor Ali Dieng, I-Ward 7, asked Flanagan about the costs associated with these three options. Flanagan declined to share details about the potential alternate spaces because the district is still in negotiations. He also said due to the fact that they’re still negotiating, they don’t have an exact number, but he anticipates it could cost around $3 million.

“And then there’s a question of rent. So what would rent be on top of that? And so we have a number of different ways that we could work to achieve that but it is unbudgeted right now. And so it’s something we really have to think hard about and to figure out how we would do that in the most responsible way,” Flanagan said.

Dieng also suggested housing high school students in the middle and elementary schools on Wednesdays, since all schools are closed on that day. Flanagan said that’s something the district will consider.

There are also other opinions the district has to take into account, including the teacher and staff unions that need to sign off and agree on their plans.

The school board will go over this plan at their meeting on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. They’re also expected to hear from parents.

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