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Price Tag for Edmunds Accessibility May Be Lower Than Expected


Published June 3, 2009 at 9:13 a.m.

Seven Days contributor Aimee Picchi went to the Burlington School Board meeting last night and has this report.

Burlington's Edmunds school complex may soon ramp it up.

Twocommittees of the Burlington School Board last night received anestimate for adding ramps, elevators and handicapped-accessiblebathrooms, making the elementary and middle schools accessible to thosewith mobility issues. The final price tag? Just over $8 million.

That's almost half of what the school district had estimated thecost might be earlier this year, when it was pegging the work at asmuch as $15 million. The reason for the lower estimate is the currentplan, which calls for the work to be completed in four phases overseveral years, has shaved some items from the earlier vision forrenovating the complex, property services director Chris Giard toldmembers of the infrastructure and technology committee Tuesday evening.For instance, the earlier plan included complete renovation of thebathrooms, while the current approach calls for adding onehandicapped-accessible toilet and sink to the existing restrooms.

The first phase of the plan — adding an elevator to Edmunds MiddleSchool — may be moving closer to reality. The finance committee, whichalso met Tuesday evening, discussed how to fund the $1.6 millionelevator installation, finance member Amy Werbel said after themeeting. The plan calls for $1 million from the school district'sbonding capacity, $300,000 from stimulus funding, leaving a $300,000gap. The board plans to approach the city of Burlington for help withthe needed $300,000.

And now that the board has a blueprint, what's next? Taking theplan to Vermont's Access Board, as well as discussing how to financethe larger project, according to school board chair Fred Lane. The access boardwill assess whether plan achieves accessibility and will give theschool district the yea or nay on approaching the work at Edmunds inseveral phases, he said.

Check out Aimee Picchi's "Old School" overview of the issue, and her blog post "Need a Lift."