Burlington hopes school tours convince voters to pay for upgrades

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Burlington High School wants to give voters a firsthand look at why the home of the Seahorses may need an update, so they're offering the community tours. The superintendent may have put it best, saying education has changed in 60 years, our building hasn't.

"Our proposal is to build a top of the line educational facility for our students," said Marty Spaulding of Burlington High School.

The main building of Burlington High School was built in 1963 and officials say it has gotten very few upgrades since.

"How this building is structured, it's spread out along a hillside. It's not very accessible to all students, especially handicapped students," Spaulding said.

Handicapped accessibility is a major focus of the plans. School officials also hope to enhance safety and security, and also make the building more energy efficient.

"Yes, I would support it," Jeanne McCormack said.

McCormack has lived in Burlington for almost 20 years and used to student-teach at Burlington High School. She believes the school's multiple buildings poses security risks.

"All different buildings with many entrances and exits, which doesn't seem like it would be safe in this day and age," she said.

In the plan, officials say they would renovate the A building and then build around it. The plans call for demolishing the C, D and possibly the E buildings.

The administration will bring the $60 million-$70 million bond proposal to the school board in August. The school board will then decide whether to take it to taxpayers in November.

"An approach of doing nothing will ultimately cost the taxpayers $30 million in the general fund just to keep the building maintained," Spaulding said.

Work wouldn't break ground until the summer of 2020 and could take two to three years.

McCormack believes Burlington taxpayers should support the high school.

"Good schools are hallmarks of good places to live," she said. "So, if you want to live in a vibrant community, you should be supporting your schools."

There are three tours within the next month: July 31, August 8 and August 18. Click here for more information and to sign up for a tour.

The Burlington School District is also pushing a plan to build two new early education facilities, using money from a previously approved bond. But the school board put a halt to that project last month to allow for more public discussion about the project.