First phase of Burlington High School remodeling celebrated

First phase of Burlington High School remodeling celebrated With School Board members and Burlington Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors looking on, Burlington High School Principal Monica Myers cuts a ribbon Feb. 19, 2024, to celebrate completion of the first phase of a $34 million, seven-phase renovation project at the school. Carl A. Nelson & Company is construction manager agent for the overall $43.4 million air quality and modernization project, which is slated to continue through the summer of 2025. CANCO photo

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The seven-phase renovation is slated for completion in 2025; science wing, new fitness center, enclosed Industrial Arts Building connection now open.

Project team leaders and other representatives of Carl A. Nelson & Company (CANCO) joined Burlington Community School District officials, chamber ambassadors and others for a ceremony to mark completion of the first phase of a $34 million renovation project at Burlington High School.

BHS Principal Monica Myers cut a ribbon at the Feb. 19, 2024, event to celebrate the school's new science classrooms, fitness center and a newly enclosed link between the main high school and the Industrial Arts Building. The science classrooms, located on the second floor of the academic wing, were occupied in November 2023. The fitness center and link connector were turned over in January 2024. The renovation is part of an overall $34.4 million project using sales tax revenue from Iowa's SAVE program that includes replacement of the bulk of the 55-year-old building's HVAC system, which dated to when the school opened in 1969 — or earlier, when a 1966 construction start is considered. Prior to undertaking the $9.4 million ESSER-funded mechanical system overhaul in 2022, the only improvements to the school were a series of additions spaced over decades that brought the facility's footprint to more than 260,000 SF.

"It's been a longtime coming," Myers said. "Technology has changed so much since this building was built originally. All of the updates will put us where we need to be educationally, and give our students the advantage we deserve."

CANCO is construction manager agent on the project, which included pre-construction services such as budgeting, scheduling and design review; and supervision of the construction. Work at the school has been phased and scheduled to occur primarly during after-school hours to minimize disruptions to students and staff during the day. Budget performance on the project has enabled the school district to pursue other work not originally included, including a partial roof replacement and tennis court upgrades.

Although plenty of work remains on the total project, Superintendent Rob Scott noted that "it's really exciting where we're at in the chapter of the school being remodeled." School Board President Darven Kendell, citing the remaining renovations, said when completed, BHS will be "an entirely different building from what anybody probably remembered."

In addition to the new science department, which includes a health occupations lab complete with hospital beds and medical mannequins, and multiple classrooms with in-room laboratory space, the renovations at the school will feature the following changes:

  • Relocation of school offices to the south third of the academic wing on the first floor, and development of a secure entrance adjacent to the cafeteria courtyard. A new entrance canopy will provide a new front door to the school for students and visitors.
  • Relocation of special education programs to and expansion of community health clinic services in the existing office wing on the east side of the school.
  • Introduction of 21st Century Learning features in the academic wing to provide for small-group collaboration spaces for students.
  • Remodeling of remaining classroom areas in the academic wing.
  • Renovations in other areas of the building, including cosmetic updates, in stairwells and the cafeteria, as well as new exterior windows and cleaning of the building's exterior.

Updates to student restrooms on the first and second floors of the academic wing were completed prior to the start of school in August 2023. Construction of the HVAC-related portion of the project is complete, with only testing and commissioning of the various mechanical systems still underway.

Carl A. Nelson & Company, with its extensive history in K-12 construction management, was selected in a competitive qualifications process in 2021 to lead upgrade efforts at BHS, and helped with master planning efforts that produced more than $100 million in identified wants and needs. From that effort, the Burlington School Board opted to focus on improvements to extend the life of the building and to modernize the learning environment.


Construction management and design team members from Carl A. Nelson & Company and Bray Architects joined with Burlington Community School District officials to celebrate the ribbon-cutting for the Phase 1 renovations at Burlington High School. From left are, CANCO President Chris Smith; Bray Architects Associate John Mahon; Tim Seibert, P.E., CANCO project manager; Will Porter, CANCO project engineer, Superintendent Robert Scott, Burlington CSD; Principal Monica Myers, Burlington High School; Dan Culp, CANCO vice president of operations (Burlington). CANCO photo


The Health Occupations Lab in the new science wing at Burlington High School includes multiple hospital beds and medical mannequins. CANCO photo


Enclosure of the link between the main high school building and the Industrial Arts Building provides a dry and climate-controlled means of moving between the buildings. CANCO photo


An exterior view of the new fitness center at Burlington High School. CANCO photo


The new BHS Fitness Center includes equipment for weight training and space for indoor activities such as cheer squad practices. CANCO photo