South Burlington schools begin ZEM pod construction

Published: Jun. 21, 2023 at 6:14 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Crews broke ground Wednesday on temporary extensions to two South Burlington Schools, a multi-million effort to expand classroom space that district officials say is the right choice for the community.

Throughout the summer, crews will be putting up the zero energy modular units, or ZEMS, at the Rick Marcotte and Orchard Schools to give the buildings additional classroom space.

It’s going to help tremendously. We’ve been squeezing 442 students into this building,” said Rick Marcotte Principal Lissa McDonald.

“We have about 450 students in this building so we are overgrown,” added Orchard School Principal Mark Trifolio.

While the student population continues to grow, they’ve shared classrooms, transformed office space, and even done some work from temporary trailers. “But they were more just for offices and small group work,” Trifolio said.

Now, each of the schools is getting 12 ZEM units, which translates to four classrooms, or just under 1,000 square feet at each location. Superintendent Violet Nichols says ZEMS were a more immediate and sustainable solution to the school’s space problems.

“They’re sort of utility players because we do have the ability to move them elsewhere depending on what the community ultimately decides for longer-term space solutions at the elementary, middle, and high school level,” said South Burlington School District Superintendent Violet Nichols. She says the project wouldn’t be possible without community support and the impact fees being provided by the city. Those fees are expected to cover 91% of the voter-approved $6-million bond for the work. “As I look out to Catamount Run, we know we’re going to see a lot of growth and that it’s our responsibility to continue to offer the high quality of education that we’re known for.”

Nichols says she expects the ZEMS to be set up and being used as classroom space by September. However, they’ve already run into a few construction delays, so there is a chance it might be later.

Related Stories:

South Burlington voters approve $15M TIF bond, $14.5M school bond, $35M wastewater bond

South Burlington residents to vote on expanded school classrooms

SB School District discusses price tag for temporary class space

South Burlington School District works to solve enrollment crisis

Estimated cost to add classroom space in South Burlington increases