Demolition of Old Burlington High School Will Start in January | Education | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

News + Opinion » Education

Demolition of Old Burlington High School Will Start in January


Published December 6, 2022 at 9:00 p.m.

The entrance of the old Burlington High School - FILE: DARIA BISHOP
  • File: Daria Bishop
  • The entrance of the old Burlington High School
Demolition of the old Burlington High School and the abatement of toxic chemicals in its building materials and soil is slated to begin next month, school district officials said on Tuesday.

The work is the first step in the district's multiyear plan to build a new, 250,000-square-foot high school and technical center on the Institute Road campus, following the discovery of toxic PCBs there in the fall of 2020. Last month, 76 percent of Burlington residents voted to approve a bond of up to $165 million to fund the demolition of the almost 60-year-old building and the construction of a modern, energy-efficient high school. The district hopes to have the new building ready for students by fall 2025.

At a board meeting on Tuesday, project manager Marty Spaulding said the teardown of the Institute Road school — a network of six buildings connected by covered walkways — is expected to start in early January and be completed within 30 weeks, or by the end of July.
The work can't begin until the school district's corrective action plan gets the go-ahead from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Spaulding said. The district has been in touch with those two agencies, and Spaulding said he was anticipating that approval would be granted around the start of the new year. In the interim, school staff are being given the opportunity to come into the building to take any materials they want to keep.
The library at Burlington High School's Institute Road campus - FILE: DARIA BISHOP
  • File: Daria Bishop
  • The library at Burlington High School's Institute Road campus
School commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to award the contract for demolition and abatement to New Hampshire-based environmental contractor EnviroVantage.

EnviroVantage's bid for the project was $11.4 million — a figure that the district's finance director, Nathan Lavery, said was slightly under what the district had budgeted for that part of the project.

Four additional companies submitted bids. EnviroVantage was chosen because state law requires school districts to award contracts to the lowest bidder. Casella Construction, the sole Vermont bidder, provided a cost estimate of $18.5 million, the highest bid of the bunch.

"This is a big moment for Burlington, to award this first contract," board chair Clare Wool said after the vote.

School commissioners on Tuesday also unanimously voted to award an $85,000 contract to Williston-based Pettinelli & Associates to replace an outdated play structure at the Integrated Arts Academy, an elementary school in Burlington's Old North End. A $30,000 private donation will help offset the cost of that project.

"With the effort and focus we've had to put on the high school, admittedly the other real work that exists at our other campuses hasn't gotten the type of attention that we would like to give it and it deserves," Lavery said. "It's important to us to bring this forward to show we're going to make significant investments in the Integrated Arts Academy campus."