Education News

Career Center projects get OKs from voters

MIDDLEBURY — Voters in 17 Addison County towns resoundingly approved a proposal to spend up to $8.1 million on significant renovations to the Patricia Hannaford Career Center’s Charles Avenue and North Campus buildings in Middlebury.

Voters OK’d the measure, 4,278-1,470.

The lion’s share of the work will involve upgrading the heating system while replacing the ventilation and electrical systems at the Charles Avenue building. The to-do list for that structure also calls for energy efficiency upgrades (including solar), enhanced security and safety equipment, ensuring the structure meets current code and ADA requirements, and complete asbestos abatement.

Improvements targeting the North Campus building, located in Middlebury’s industrial park, include installation of LED light fixtures and making an upstairs classroom usable and accessible.

“With many systems at maximum end or past, we need to update (them to ensure) the career center is ready to meet the needs of students for the next 50 years and more,” PHCC board Chair Suzanne Buck said of the project prior to Tuesday’s vote.

Career Center officials simply asked voters to for permission to incur project debt; they’ll spend the coming weeks determining the best payback mechanism for the $8.1 million. A recent PHCC mailing to affected taxpayers suggests the yearly cost for a homeowner is expected to be “less than $19 for every $100,000 in assessed property value, and will vary based on town.”

The Career Center serves students in the Addison Central, Addison Northwest and Mount Abraham Unified school districts.

Career Center Superintendent Dana Peterson noted the proposed energy efficiency improvements to the main campus would save taxpayers more than $48,000 per year. The goal is for the main campus to become net zero.

Construction is expected to start at the end of this academic year and proceed through the summer, and during vacations during next school year. Some of the less disruptive work could be done while school is in session, before concluding at the end of the summer of 2023.

In other PHCC-related voting on Tuesday, residents voted:

  • 5,081-859 in favor of transferring $175,000 of the school district’s FY21 fund balance into the Building & Equipment Reserve, to use for capital improvements and equipment.
  • 4,819-1,105 to assign $25,000 of the FY21 fund balance to the Health Reserve Fund, for health care coverage.
  • 5,026-894 to assign $30,000 in fund balance as revenue for the 2022-23 operating budget, and assign $45,000 in fund balance for revenue in future budgets.
  • 4,383-1,501 to approve a $2,500 stipend for the board chair; a $1,200 stipend for each board member, and $2,000 stipend for the board treasurer.
  • 4,528-1,427 in favor of the proposed 2022-23 PHCC budget of $4,104,157.

Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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