Congressman Peter Welch hopes fed $$$ can help build new Burlington High

Congressman Peter Welch on a break from Washington D.C. visits with high school students and staff in Burlington to share his optimism that federal funding could become available for school construction projects. Burlington needs to replace its high school after BHS was closed due to extensive contamination from PCBs. Photo by Abbie Kopelowitz

by Abbie Kopelowitz, Community News Service

Vermont U.S. Rep. Peter Welch visited Burlington High School’s temporary downtown campus on Monday to discuss the $1.75 trillion social spending bill before Congress and the proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill.  

Burlington High School has been in session in the old Macy’s building near the Church Street Marketplace since March, challenging school leaders and students alike to adapt to their new location. Some students meeting with Welch admitted their discomfort with this new campus, but said they ultimately accepted the situation.   

“As I look around, we need a new school for the kids. The situation you have is extreme,” he said to those gathered for his visit. 

In detailing his experiences in Washington, Vermont’s lone congressman expressed optimism for passing the landmark legislation awaiting action in Congress. He stressed that a lot of work has gone into reaching an agreement on both sides. 

“A lot of us in Congress are trying to get money from the federal government to help out, not to pay for the whole pie, but to help out,” he said.

Through negotiations, the cost of the package has gone from $3.5 to $1.75 trillion. Welch said he is trying to get some of this money back to help with school infrastructure, arguing that federal investment is necessary to relieve local tax burdens.  

“It’s actually not only affordable, but doable,” Welch says, “We spent 8 trillion dollars on three wars in the Middle East. Maybe we ought to find a little money for school construction.”

Democratic leaders believe that an initial vote on these spending bills could happen as soon as this week. 

In Vermont, the state more than a decade ago ended its practice to contribute funding to local school construction projects. That has left districts on their own to address infrastructure projects to maintain and update aging school facilities. A study in 2019 found more than $500 million in public school renovations and upgrades needed across the state. 

5 replies »

  1. Congressman Welch thinks that the federal money he hopes to corner for the construction of BHS will save tax payers. The source of this money is taxes. Instead of local taxes, Fed taxes are raised with the added expenditure of a gigantic federal bureaucracy. There is no such thing as a free lunch Peter, one would assume that you had figured that out by now!

  2. Burlington could pay for a new high school from the profit stream of say a hundred wind turbines out in Lake Champlain.

  3. The only thing Welch is really hoping for is a big wad of that money to pad his corrupt and greedy backside.

  4. Here he goes, jockeying for Leahy’s job and buying votes with taxpayer dollars! What about having the taxpayers in Burlington pay for their own school or spread the “Free Money” around to every school in Vermont. It’s only fair!