School Board chooses design for new high school and technical center


Digital rendering of “Option C” new BHS/BTC high school design. Photo: Burlington School District

Rebecca Cunningham, Managing Editor

Choosing from five conceptual designs, Burlington School Board commissioners voted unanimously in support of a plan designated “Option C” on Wednesday, April 28. Initial renderings show a compact building that faces the athletic fields with the front entrance on Institute Road. The new building would be located on the east side of the property, close to North Ave, with BTC on the west, and a student parking lot behind the school. 

“I cannot wait to begin the next phase of this project where we will watch our new building take shape and dig into planning to support deeper learning for every student,” Superintendent Flanagan said in an email forwarded to teachers Thursday afternoon.

The School Board started working to build a new high school in 2018 under the project title BHS/BTC ReEnvisioning. But high levels of aerosolized PCBs found in September 2021, forced the School Board to start over. Since May 2021, commissioners have chosen a new architectural firm, conducted a second site search evaluation, and now given their consent to continue with “Option C.”

“I remember hearing about a new high school freshman year,” Kami Chadwick ‘22 said. “I am excited because I just feel that we need a safer and more accessible building for everybody.”

Both Superintendent Flanagan and the BHS/BTC 2025 Design Team recommended “Option C” to commissioners. The design had the lowest cost of the five options, includes space to expand, reduces factors that may slow construction, and incorporates the natural environment.

Birds-eye view of “Option C.” Photo: Burlington School District

Throughout the process more than 400 individuals provided their feedback through public meetings and surveys. Burlington residents and BHS teachers also favored this option by a small margin. 

“The atmosphere right now [at Macy’s] is difficult because of the lack windows and natural sunlight,” Math Teacher Marcel Girouard said. “‘Option C’ has courtyards and seemingly few landlocked classrooms which I like. And as far as the decision, I think it was a very safe decision.”

Not all community members who responded to outreach supported “Option C.” They pointed to the fact that “Option C” requires the demolition of Building A by June 2023, which is currently in use and hosts the gym, auditorium, and cafeteria. “Option A” and “Option C.1” allow Building A to remain for an additional year.

The School Board addressed this concern by committing to rent spaces in the city for athletes, the drama department, and kitchen staff to use. 

A current high-level estimate predicts the building will cost $181.3 million. The district plans to raise money through the combination of a city bond and state and federal funding.

Girouard believes that despite the expense, a new high school is necessary for student learning and Burlington’s future growth. 

“There are not many good towns with bad high schools,” he said. “If we want to be proud of our city and attract new families, the high school serves as the centerpiece.”

If all runs smoothly, the School Board aims to open the new BHS/BTC building in September, 2025.