Dear BSD Community,
It has been a while since we’ve written an update solely focused on the progress of BHS/BTC 2025… thanks for your patience! Since November, a lot has happened, and below you’ll find a number of updates. The most obvious to those traveling on North Avenue in the past week is that demolition has begun on the old campus on Institute Road. The hardworking team at EnviroVantage will soon have “A” building down completely, at which point they will begin the time-consuming process of sorting the materials for proper disposal. You can find photos of the work in the post linked above, or on the revamped BHS/BTC 2025 webpage which also contains project documents, information included in previous Community Updates, and more.
My hope is that you’ll take a few minutes to go through the new webpage and this update to learn more about where we are in the process and what is coming next. If you have questions about the project after going through this email, please feel free to send an email to email@example.com with questions or concerns.
This is an exciting phase of the project that has brought optimism to many of our elementary school students and families as they drive by the site. It’s also a reflection of the commitment our community has made to education in the Queen City. Thank you for your continued support, and please know we continue to work hard to bring funding to the project as well, which you will see below!
State Support – Thanks to Vermont legislators, Burlington citizens should be getting substantial support from the State of Vermont next year. The budget passed by the Vermont legislature earlier this month includes a $16 million grant to support remediation and demolition work happening onsite at BHS/BTC 2025. The one caveat is that Budget Conferees made a last-minute decision to put language in the budget that requires us to pay back the PCB grant IF we are successful with the lawsuit against Monsanto (more on that below); we hope to work to remove/amend this language in future years. Still, the grant is a large appropriation for a single entity and a great win for Burlington taxpayers as it means we could end up borrowing less than the $165 million approved by voters in November. While passed by the legislature, we are hoping Governor Scott will sign the bill to make it official.
ESSER Funding Update – As you may remember, we had been planning to use $10 million in ESSER funds to support the BHS/BTC 2025 project. At the same time, there are real needs at IAA that we have been planning to address, including heating, ventilation, and cooling system replacement; lighting improvements; upgraded electrical and fire alarm systems; and solar panel installation. After working on both projects, we would like to change the funding sources for the two projects because we believe using the federal dollars for IAA better aligns with the goals of that funding. Using ESSER for IAA will free up other capital funds to support the BHS/BTC project, and we don’t anticipate this causing any additional financial hurdles for the new building. We are seeking stakeholder input on this revision to our ESSER plan, and invite your feedback. Please join us tonight, Wednesday, May 31, 2023, from 5:15 to 6:00 pm at IAA for a Community Input Session on these changes. You can also provide feedback online at the bottom of our COVID-19 Recovery Form webpage.
Timeline – In April, I notified the board that our BHS/BTC 2025 project manager is anticipating a later completion date than initially hoped for. As of now, we are projecting a move into the building in December 2025, with classes starting at the new school in January 2026! I will continue to do what I can to push our teams for a fast project, including authorizing pre-bid packages earlier in the process to allow for greater lead time for the procurement of building materials. The next substantial timeline update should happen in September.
Design Process – After significant collaboration, input, and refinement based on our design principles and stakeholder participation, the design team has completed the design of the major elements of the project. While some details remain to be worked out, we are at the point now where the feedback cycle is complete and the team is finalizing the drawings. This work is the culmination of more than 18 months of working closely with BSD leaders, faculty and staff, students, steering committees, and other community stakeholders to design a 21st-century, state-of-the-art high school and technical center. The final design specifications will be used to prepare the bid document package for the remainder of the project. The final bid recommendation will be presented to the board for approval in early September. Thank you to everyone who contributed ideas and feedback. You have made this a better building for generations of students!
Cost Estimate Our cost estimators, Whiting-Turner (WT) and PM&C are preparing an updated cost estimate that will be shared publicly at the June 6 school board meeting.
Permits – The building permit for ground improvements and foundation work was issued by the City last week! This permit allows Whiting-Turning to begin on-site mobilization and construction of foundations and related ground improvements as soon as the demolition of A building is complete.
“B” Building Demolition – Once “A” building is down, EnviroVantage crews will move inside of “B” building to begin working on asbestos and other hazardous waste abatement strategies. This will happen as the rubble from “A” building is sorted and disposed of appropriately.
Lawsuit – Our lawsuit against Monsanto to recover PCB-related costs (including the cost of the new high school) is still working its way through federal court. Monsanto has asked the federal court to dismiss the lawsuit. The court has not yet issued a decision on Monsanto’s request, which the District opposed. In the meantime, we have provided a substantial amount of information on the original BHS building to Monsanto, and are requesting information from Monsanto on PCBs. This exchange of information is part of the trial preparation process—one that could take years.
Corrective Action Plan – As part of demolition work, we are required to have a Corrective Action Plan to ensure we meet environmental safety standards. This plan has been approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and can be found on the BHS/BTC 2025 website. Representatives from DEC are on-site and in communication with our team and project managers regularly, and we have retained the services of environmental consultants who are on site everyday monitoring demolition. EnviroVantage also has a superintendent on site, who is responsible for their worker’s safety, and of course, OSHA is the body that regulates construction sites.
Dust – One thing we’ve been asked about a few times is the possibility of dust from the building getting into the air. I want to assure you that we are working in different ways to ensure this isn’t the case. First, throughout demolition, water cannons are being used to keep the site wet, which reduces dust. The demolition team is also working to bring the building down in a deliberate manner that reduces dust. All of this work is monitored by environmental consultants who are on site every day, and the State of Vermont has set up dust monitoring equipment that allows us to monitor the air and make adjustments in real time, if necessary. (Much of this, and more, is documented in our Corrective Action Plan mentioned above.) If you DO see dust, it will likely be from work on the eastern part of the site, nearer to North Ave. Here, away from the demolition, Whiting-Turner has begun site work and is laying down stone as a base layer. This is a common and safe material, but it can get dusty when dumped from bucket loaders and dump trucks!
Fundraiser – BACK by popular demand, BHS Retired Teachers are holding another fundraiser on July 16 at 1 PM at Asian Bistro in Winooski. The event will feature a silent auction with jewelry, pottery, gift certificates to Claussens and Asian Bistro, and more. Retired BEA President Terry Buehner will perform a one-act play based on the life of Alla Fitzgerald Smith, wife of the first principal at Institute Road, Dutch Smith. Attendees will also have a chance to bid to hear music from retired performers. FREE food and cash bar will be available… you won’t want to miss this!