Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Channel 5 News Explores Edmunds Accessibility

Mia Moran filed this story for WPTZ Channel 5 News...

(Click here for video.)
Burlington School Not Handicap Accessible
Parents Take Action Against School
5:26 pm EDT April 27, 2009

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- The issue of handicap access at a local school in Burlington is heating up.

Burlington School Not Handicap Accessible

Edmunds Elementary and Middle School has no elevator and limited wheelchair access, making it impossible for disabled students and people in the community to go there.

"A neighbor who wants to go to some function at Edmunds Middle School but uses a wheelchair can't get in there and this is 2009. It's time and we have a ground swell of support to make this happen," said Suzy Comerford, a parent and member of the group Access Burlington.

Parents have been fighting the Burlington School District for equal access for nearly 15 years but just recently they got together to form the group Access Burlington and now they're putting on the pressure hoping the the district can capitalize on stimulus funds.

Superintendent Jeanne Collins said structural changes to the century-old school won't be cheap.

"It will be very costly to delve into a 108 year old building...possible lead, possible asbestos," said Collins.

Collins estimates it will cost $15 million to make Edmunds fully accessible. She said the district is not violating the Americans With Disabilities Act because disabled students can attend nearby Hunt Middle School. "We can provide access to comparable services and programs which is what's required," said Collins.

But Access Burlington said that's not an acceptable option any more. The group plans to attend Tuesday night's school board meeting to urge board members to invest in an elevator. Collins said the the board and been receptive and the issue is not off the table. In fact the school board has pledged to spend $10,000 to study the feasibility of putting in one elevator.

"This board is very interested in exploring what possibilities may exist for accessibility," said Collins.

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