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High School Building Committee Finalizes Mission Statement, Discusses Next Steps

The committee in charge of redesigning the Burlington High School was formally sworn in Tuesday night, and also formally approved a mission statement to guide their work. 

The statement reads as follows: 

“The mission of the Burlington High School Building Committee is to ensure a feasibility process that will produce educationally sound, environmentally sustainable and fiscally responsible options for the Burlington High School site. Additionally, the School Building Committee is charged with proactively engaging the community throughout the study for the purpose of informing and soliciting input. The School Building Committee has final authority on all project decisions to be recommended and confirmed by the School Committee and then presented to the Town of Burlington.” 

The statement has been approved by legal counsel. 

In another agenda item, the committee discussed its next steps for procuring a designer, the firm that will help shape the school building, whether the committee opts to rebuild the whole school or simply do some renovations. 

According to a timeline presented at Tuesday’s meeting, the building committee will place an ad in a central register for December 6; interested firms will walk through the site on December 13 and submit their applications by early January, 2024. The committee will then create a shortlist of qualified firms by January 17 and conduct interviews on January 14, with the contract awarded by January 31. 

“We’re hopeful that potential designers are already aware of this job and are going to be watching this video tonight,” said Mike Burton, a partner with Owners Project Manager Dore + Whittier. “This is our free chance to advertise.” 

The committee and project managers, and eventually the chosen design firm, will soon begin the work of analyzing the current school’s educational programming – that is, how students move through their days, what programs are available, and what those programs’ space needs are. The committee will also reckon with the challenges of the space: For instance, there’s not much “swing space” available, or space for modular classrooms or other available spaces for learning to occur during construction. 

Additionally, unlike the Fox Hill Elementary School, which is also under construction, the high school is home to non-school programming, including the BCAT studio, special education programming, district offices, and the Early Childhood Center, all of which take up about 33,000 square feet of space. 

Preliminary conversations have also included discussions of sustainability in the new building, though School Committee member Christine Monaco warned that because so much remained to be decided, it might be difficult to set firm goals for sustainability.  “Unlike Fox Hill, where we clearly needed a new building, I think at the High School we really have no clue,” Monaco said. “We don’t know if we need a new wing, a new building, a new… we don’t know what we need. At this point in time, sustainability issues are really goals, because this place is a mass of concrete, and if it turns into a rehab plus maybe a new wing here and a new wing there, I’m not sure we can really set it in stone at this point in time.”