Burlington School Board to review costs, bonding options for new high school

Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 4:42 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 2, 2022 at 7:11 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A decision on how much to ask taxpayers to spend on a new Burlington High School is looming for the city school board.

Tuesday night, the board is meeting to discuss the final cost estimates for the school and how big of a bond will be needed to fund it.

The clock is ticking for the school board, council and mayor to sign off on a school bond proposal for the citizens to vote on in November.

Just two weeks from Wednesday all the boxes need to be ticked for the ballot language to make it on the ballot and keep the district’s timeline for opening the school in 2025.

One remaining question is how much the district will be bonding for.

The city administration has said they would prefer the district keep it to near $150 million, however, the district is considering amounts of either $150 million, $165 million or $172 million.

Contract advisors to the district have recommended a plan with a $165 million bond.

City councilors say they understand the pressure of getting this bond to the voters, but also want to minimize taxpayer expense.

“If they come to us finally on August 15th and make a case that they’ve really done everything they can to minimize costs while also having a building that our kids deserve, I’ll be supporting a bond measure to put it on the ballot in November,” said Ben Traverse, D-Burlington City Council.

Traverse is encouraging community input at the next City Council meeting two weeks from Monday which will be when the council will vote on the bond.

Burlington School Superintendent Tom Flanagan says these next two weeks are critical for getting students in a new building by August 2025.

“We are really excited about a new school building and the opportunity there and it’s just so important for our community and we also understand the importance of recognizing the impact it has on taxpaers and the citizens of Burlington and we want to make sure we are striking that balance,” Flanagan said.

Current projections of the new school price are between $730 and $830 a year for a home assessed at $370,000, the average home price in Burlington.

Flanagan says with the new pupil-weighting formula passed by the Legislature, the cost to taxpayers will be less.

The school district is also asking to hear your questions over the next week about the new school bond ahead of their Aug. 10 meeting.

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