Green Guide

Burlington district votes to lease Macy's for high school

Posted November 18, 2020 11:29 a.m. EST

— Burlington High School students are a step closer to going to classes in an empty downtown department store after the school was shut down in September because high levels of PCBs were found in one of the buildings.

The school board voted Tuesday in favor of a lease agreement for the former Macy's building. The board is now waiting for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation to do soil contamination testing — which is expected to start next week, WCAX-TV reported — to see whether the building is safe.

The district hopes to have students in the building by the end of February, the news station reported.

“In-person learning is very important. It needs to happen as soon as possible,” school board member Stephen Carey said. “It seems like the Macy’s option is the one that provides that best. I’m excited about the potential for a dynamic downtown high school that’s connected to the city in the way that none of our schools are connected to the city right now.”

Some of the drawbacks are that there are no windows and the walls are not full ceiling height.

Superintendent Tom Flanagan says that the school district is committed to creating spaces in the building to accommodate music and art classes and that students will be allowed to travel back to Burlington High School to use the gym.

The total cost is expected to be about $10 million.

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