Master Planning & Visioning: Parent User Group Presentation

  • Two master planning and visioning user group meetings focused on gathering parent feedback on five concepts proposed for the future of South Burlington's middle and high school were held August 26 and August 28, 2019 in the FHTMS library. The meeting was facilitated by Lee Dore and Rob Fitzgerald of Dore and Whittier Architects. Board member Bridget Burkhardt provided opening remarks and fielded parent questions.

    The presentation included detailed photos of structural concerns at the middle and high school (discovered during Phase I of the process) including space constraints. The lack of natural light in over 50 percent of the middle school and its impact on student outcomes was also noted. Further, sustainability goals were discussed with the recognition that any building constructed will be LEED Certifiable and net zero ready. The idea behind any building(s) is to create spaces that can be flexible to allow for adjacencies between departments, especially as education (including physical education) continues to evolve in the years to come.  

    Important to note: There will be many more opportunities for all interested individuals to provide feedback in various formats including small group meetings, larger community gatherings, and at school board meetings. Keep your eyes open for announcements of school tours as well!

    Next Wednesday, Sept. 4, the school board will hold their regular meeting at 7 pm in the FHTMS library. The board is currently scheduled to decide upon a direction for the next phase of this process. Community members are encouraged to attend! You can also view the meeting live on RETN.

Dore and Whittier: 5 Design Concepts with Cost Estimates

  • At the August 21, 2019 regular school board meeting, Dore and Whittier presented 5 middle/high school configuration options for the current site along with phasing timelines and preliminary costs. You can review the .pdf of the presentation here or watch the RETN video above.

Dore and Whittier: 5 Design Concepts and Phasing Reviewed

  • At the August 7, 2019 school board meeting, Lee Dore of Dore and Whittier Architects briefed the board and public on 5 proposed design concepts for a potential new middle/high school on the existing site to include phasing. You can view the presentation at the 25 minute mark in the above video and read the meeting minutes here. This was an informational presentation only and no decision was made by the board. At the August 21, 2019 board meeting, Dore and Whittier will return with preliminary proposed cost estimates as well as construction timelines for each concept. September 4, the board is currently slated to make a decision regarding the scope of the project. Any interested community members are encouraged to attend.

Master Planning & Visioning MS and HS User Groups Meet

  • Middle and High School user group meetings were held at the offices of Dore and Whittier Architects in downtown Burlington July 16 and July 22, 2019. Since the school board made the unanimous decision June 6 to move Option 8, a new MS/HS, forward, the team at Dore and Whittier has been working to create draft layouts of spaces. The primary obective of these user group meetings has been to gather feedback, ideally from each major department within the schools, to see if the square footage and layout recommendations made by the design team met the current and future expectations of those present.

    Guiding design principles were outlined by Rob Fitzgerald to include: the adaptability of spaces over time, incorporation of ample natural light, the wellness of students, supporting teacher collaboration and planning, and providing safety and security while being invisible to students and visitiors. From the high school, Principal Patrick Burke, Assistant Principals John Craig and Lissa McDonald, Director of Athletics and Student Activities Mike Jabour, Jim Shields and Kevin Downey from Big Picture, Gail Kilkelly representing the performing arts, Guidance Director Meghan Sweet, and Director of Nutrition Services Rhonda Ketner were present as well as Board member and parent Bridget Burkhardt and parent Abby Crocker. The middle school user group included Chorus teacher Aimee Bushey, Principal Karsten Schlenter, Rhonda Ketner, Art teacher Beth Coleman, and Physical Education teacher Anjie Soucy.

    Each group, during their separate sessions, evaluated their space needs from the perspective of what happens in those areas currently and future improvements they would like to see made. For the high school admin/guidance department, smaller meeting rooms that enhance privacy were desired. Moving the layout of the nurse's office such that there is better access for an ambulance if needed. Jabour noted the need for locker rooms to both be Title IX compliant and face the playing fields. Ketner mentioned current issues faced by the cafeteria such as imbalanced seating, the lack of space, and long lines. Burke explained that students don't go off campus for lunch because of food quality or price, but rather, due to time constraints. 

    In addition to these user groups, students and staff interested in hearing about and offering feedback on an indoor, competition sized track currently in the consideration phase, met July 24. See the meeting notes here.

Summer 2019: Updates on Master Planning & Visioning

  • At the June 6, 2019 school board meeting, members unanimously decided to move forward in exploring Option 8: a combined middle and high school as the most appropriate next step in the District's ongoing Master Planning and Visioning process. The roadmap leading up to this decision included public outreach sessions and board meetings as well as substantial consultation with the Dore and Whittier team who oversaw both Phase I (structural, mechanical, electrical) and Phase II (education) of the process. You can read the full motion and watch the video of the discussion here.

    In addition, Board member Bridget Burkhardt wrote a piece in the July 4 issue of The Other Paper explaining the decision and how community members can be notified of opportunities to provide input as they are scheduled.

    Further, the Master Planning and Visioning working group will be meeting bi-monthly through early 2020 and held their Option 8 kick-off meeting June 26 (check the minutes here).The group will work with Dore and Whittier through the planning aspects associated with the pre-bond vote phase to include community outreach, design refinement and modification, sustainability goals, and developing a project schedule that leads to a target March 2020 bond vote.

    Additional meetings will be held with school principals as well as user groups that are being formed for both middle and high school parents/guardians, community members, and students. Pics, minutes, and opportunities for involvement will be posted here as they arise! In the meantime, if you are interested in lending your voice to the process, reach out to David Young ( or school board members by email or phone.