Burlington School District considers UVM as short-term location for BHS students

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 12:30 AM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - There’s no deal yet on a long-term solution to get Burlington High School students back to in-person learning after they were forced to vacate the high school this fall because of PCB contamination.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Tom Flanagan said the district is now considering the University of Vermont as a short-term solution. They’re currently evaluating which spaces to use and taking a look at costs and the timeline before making a commitment.

The district last week floated the long-term option of repurposing the former Macy’s building or possibly renting modular trailers next semester. In the meantime, administrators are working to get students to finish this semester in-person.

Another short-term option is taking over the Edmunds school complex on Wednesdays when Edmunds students are at home learning remotely. The UVM campus option would put BHS students back to in-person for about six weeks.

“We are working out a start date and also evaluating space right now, so there are a couple of obstacles here," said Flanagan.

Flanagan says the Burlington school board met with UVM last week but the two boards are currently not in agreement on a start date. The Burlington School District is pushing for Dec. 1, while UVM thinks Dec. 7 is more reasonable.

“We are going to try to figure out how to work with them to figure out any possible way to get in as early as we possibly can, ideally on that December 1,” Flanagan said.

They’re also still working out their finances, specifically the costs of COVID testing for students and staff.

“That’s about $250,000. That’s probably a high end but we might be eligible for federal funding for that cost,” Flanagan said. "We think we would be eligible but we would still have to operationalize that.”

Custodial services are another thing they need to take into account and the cost of that will depend on how much space they decide to use at UVM.

Flanagan says there will be more information on this option later this week, possibly in an emergency board meeting if they decide to move forward with a contract.

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