- Courtesy of Burlington School District
- A rendering of a new Burlington High School and Technical Center
The estimate includes roughly $138.7 million in construction costs; $30 million in soft costs such as design fees, permits and furnishings; and $21.4 million to demolish the existing buildings and remediate toxic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the existing building materials and soil. A 10 percent contingency is built into the estimate to address unforeseen costs, while 8 percent has been added to construction costs to account for inflation.
Though the price tag is hefty, it's less than the school district thought it might be in the spring. That's because school board members voted in June to relocate four of the tech center's "high bay" programs — those that require a large amount of space, such as automotive and manufacturing — to the airport or other off-site locations in an effort to shrink the building's footprint and cut costs. A July 28 memo from senior project manager Joe Weith stated that three additional tech center programs would also be removed from the project: early childhood education and pre-tech — a program for ninth and tenth graders looking to explore tech center offerings — will be located off-site, while the culinary program is being discontinued, at least temporarily. That leaves just five technical center programs on the new campus.
At a Tuesday night school board meeting, Flanagan asked commissioners to consider another cost-saving measure: removing the high school's two alternative programs — OnTop and Horizons — from the project. OnTop, a program for ninth through twelfth graders with emotional and behavioral challenges, is currently located at Rock Point School, behind Burlington High School's Institute Road campus. Horizons, a program for nontraditional learners in eleventh and twelfth grade, occupies space at St. Mark's Catholic Church in the New North End. Both programs serve around 30 students.
Ahead of Tuesday's school board meeting, the district shared another memo that provided preliminary budget and tax estimates associated with the high school project. With a $165 million bond — assuming a 3.5 percent interest rate for 20 years — Burlington School District's budget would increase by around $11.6 million annually. That amounts to a tax rate increase of 15.67 percent for Burlington residents, which translates into a $805 annual property tax increase for the owner of a $370,000 home. Homeowners who get tax assistance based on income would see an increase of $190 a year.
The tax calculations come with a caveat, though. Last legislative session, the state passed a pupil-weighting bill that would provide financial benefits to districts with a high number of English language learners and students living in poverty, such as Burlington. Once that law goes into effect, in fiscal year 2025, there will likely be a reduction in the tax rate, according to the school district memo.
If all goes according to plan, the school district hopes to begin demolition and PCB remediation by January and break ground on the new building next June, in order to complete the project by August 2025.