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Burlington School Board reviews proposed sites for new school

Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:28 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2021 at 6:44 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The Burlington School Board has until early September to narrow down a list of 16 possible sites for the new Burlington High School campus to five.

Students and staff abandoned the former high school during the first week of school last fall after PCB contamination was discovered in the building. The school reopened in March in the former Macy’s department store and officials say it will stay there until at least 2025.

Nobody from the public came to Tuesday night’s meeting to give input on any of the sites, but school board members said they are looking forward to that feedback.

School Board Chair Clare Wool says they are going into the process with an open mind.

“We are fortunate we are taking this time to engage the community again because we also have the tech center to consider,” Wool explained.

She says the list of sites was made up of suggestions from the community and a real estate firm hired by the city.

“The next phase will be the narrowing down of what is truly available and viable,” Wool said.

The properties on the list range from places like Centennial Field and Leddy Park, to vacant lots at 453/501 Pine Street.

Burlington School Superintendent Tim Flanagan said the next step is to see what spots are really viable.

“We are working with a group called White & Burke who are helping us identify sites across the city that could be potential sites for us,” he said.

The board will score each site based on criteria including cost, accessibility and community support.

Flanagan admitted the August 2025 goal is ambitious.

“It is really aggressive, maybe some people say it’s too aggressive, but we really want to drive toward a goal that responds to the need,” he said.

Flanagan said there is no definite budget for a new school but that they will need to spend at least $20 million to decontaminate and demolish the site of the old school.

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