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Daily Buzz | Referendum Idea Nixed Due to Time Constraints
School Building Committee will still seek public input
Good Morning, Burlington!
Earlier this summer, the Elementary School Building Committee proposed an idea to approach the Select Board for permission to hold a referendum vote to determine true public sentiment about whether the town should build one building with two separate schools for 640 students (the butterfly school) or a single school for 325 students.
The Committee voted to move forward with this idea, but at this week’s Select Board meeting they updated the public and the Select Board that state bylaws prohibit such a referendum from being conducted outside the local general election in April. That would be too late to adhere to the timeline for this project. However, the project team recommended an engagement survey platform that has been used in many other districts for these types of projects.
Also on Monday, the School Building Committee decided at their meeting to strike out Option 8, which was the option to build a 640-student “butterfly” school at the Pine Glen site. On the table now are the 325-student school at the Fox Hill site and a single building with capacity for two schools and 640 students.
Last night at School Committee (You can watch here, but it’s a long one!), there was an involved conversation about the Master Plan for the Schools. Dr. Conti kicked off the conversation by referencing the Master Plan/Facilities Report that was done in 2017. This informed our capital plan and has driven the Committee’s work to prioritize the high school over the years. Conti and Facilities Manager, Bob Cunha, explained that according to state evaluations, our buildings are in good enough condition to keep rolling (despite deficiencies at the high school such as a lack of ADA compliance, no sprinkler systems, and boilers that are end-of-life), and that Fox Hill is overenrolled and doesn’t function well as a school anymore and that’s why it qualified for the state reimbursement while the high school (which has fewer than 900 students) didn’t.
School Committee members Massardo, Simon, and Brooks expressed the need for an updated plan, as it seems our priorities have shifted since the possibility of rebuilding Fox Hill presented itself. Ms. Monaco stated she preferred to wait and see what the High School Feasibility Study (which is currently in process) says about what can and should be done with this site. In the end, nothing concrete came out of this conversation, but many School Committee members expressed their opinion that the high school needs to be next on the list while also acknowledging the enormous price tag of building three, or even two, new schools. Watch the meeting starting at about the 1 hour mark to see how it played out.
There will be a public meeting at BHS on September 18 during which the Committee’s work will be presented to the public, and residents will be able to ask questions and share their input. Please encourage your neighbors to attend; it’s important we hear from a variety of voices on this topic, which will affect everyone in town.
Also at School Committee:
The equity audit is in fine tuning stages and will be made public very soon.
Our new Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Lisa Chen, made a very thorough presentation outlining all that has been occurring this summer, including Extended School Year summer school, services for students learning English, curriculum updates in technology, social studies & science, and procurement processes for multiple services. For a more complete picture, watch the meeting starting at 10 minutes.
Facilities manager Bob Cunha also gave an update, outlining the work that’s been completed this summer, including an HVAC repair at the middle school which will be done any day now, the installation of a score board at the MSMS Brush Field, repaving the Glen entrance, and much more.
At this point, we are fully staffed including substitute teachers. We also have 22 bus drivers for our 18 buses (+2 backup buses) and a 90% return rate.
There was more, and it was important, but this is another long Buzz, so I’ll capture the rest tomorrow.
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Today in Burlington
Municipal Meetings and Community Events
8:00 AM - Ways & Means TH1 Subcommittee meets to discuss upcoming capital projects and the town’s bonding schedule. This is very important because, as a town, we need to have a handle on the school and other building projects that will be coming up in the next decade and how they might be balanced with items that are coming off the bonding schedule. (Town Hall)
10:00 AM - Fall Cookie Decorating at Made in Burlington
1:00 PM - Fox Hill School Building Committee - Executive Working Group to discuss the upcoming community meeting. (Virtual)
7:00 PM - Democratic Town Committee features special guest Susan Labandibar, Co-Lead of Swing Blue Alliance, www.swingbluealliance.org, the largest all-volunteer Democratic grassroots organization. (Town Hall Annex Basement Meeting Room)
I’ll leave you for today. You have a good one, neighbors!