Officials settle on BHS renovation plan that fits $70M budget

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Burlington School District officials now say they have a renovation plan for the Burlington High School that fits its project budget of $70 million.

This is after months of research trying to hit that mark and reach its goals for the high school. Project planners on the oversight committee say no money has been spent yet, and even though they were able to get cost projections within the $70 million limit, planners still think there's more to do before the plan's finished.

"It requires some cuts and some scope adjustment but we'll be able to achieve pretty much all of the objectives of the original plan," said Tom Peterson of Peterson Consulting, the head of the oversight committee.

That doesn't mean everyone will be happy with the new proposal. Peterson and other planners say they had to cut many elements of the renovation to meet the budget. The largest cuts came from eliminating the auxiliary gym from the project -- almost $2 million in savings; and cutting back on renovations to building F -- over $5 million in savings.

Peggy O'Neill was one of a handful of Burlington residents who attended the meeting and thinks some cuts should be revisited.

"There were some cuts and justifications that seemed reasonable," O'Neill said. "There were some cuts like to the F-building and to the HVAC -- anything that affects student learning is something that we relay need to put back on the table and question."

The oversight committee stressed this isn't a finished plan, but Peterson also noted it's coming close to the construction deadline.

The committee hopes parents and locals will accept the new, under-budget plan; and O'Neill tells us she wants the project to be the best option possible.

"There are many of us who feel like this is what we can handle," O'Neill said. "You have this framework of $70 million, just knock it out of the park."