South Burlington School District works to solve enrollment crisis

Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 11:43 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 6:38 AM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - The South Burlington School District is running out of space for students, especially in the elementary schools. Right now they’re using trailers for teaching, but it’s not a long-term solution.

On Wednesday the district voted to put additions on the Orchard School and the Rick Marcotte Central School.

“We have an enrollment crisis,” said Ethan Bellavance, the father of three kids in the South Burlington School District and a member of the city’s enrollment committee. “If we were to follow Vermont’s Department of Education guidelines, which is 140 square feet per student, we’re already over.”

The Orchard School and Rick Marcotte Central School have temporarily been using trailers to make up for space. Bellavance says they’re too small to hold a full class and don’t have efficient heating or cooling systems.

On Wednesday, the Enrollment Committee proposed “Zero Energy Modular construction,” or ZEMs, at those two schools, which the board passed.

Bellavance says these units should be getting installed during Thanksgiving break. They’re also portable, so they can be moved to the middle and high school as needed.

“That would be four 1,000-square-foot classrooms, four for Orchard School, four for Central School. That would be on a foundation,” Bellavance said.

However, the units aren’t yet guaranteed. The price tag for them is roughly $2 million and the school board still needs to figure out funding.

Once this problem is solved for the immediate time, the district will look at integrating fifth graders into the middle school.

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