Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Edmunds Accessibility - Getting Closer - Need to Push Now!

A vocal crowd of 70 people showed up at a committee meeting of the Burlington school board last week to speak out about Edmunds accessibility. Most of the school board and administrators were there, and one-third of the City Council stayed for more than an hour asking questions and adding their voice to this issue. Two legal experts spoke about the relevant federal and state laws, including ADA, IDEA and Section 504, making it clear that our school district is not in compliance with the law.

But the most compelling words were spoken by the people... our elders, our children, our teachers, our neighbors. People told of their shock upon learning that Edmunds, Vermont's most prominent public school building, essentially bars children and community members who use wheelchairs from entering.

The good news is that we're making real progress together (update here) and that it's easy for you to weigh in. Our school leaders need to know what you think about Edmunds accessibility. If you've spoken up in the past, please do so again now. And this is a community-wide challenge, so we need to include a wide array of elected officials. Please take all or some of the steps below and send the loud and clear message that...

"Edmunds school should have been made accessible decades ago. We're closer than ever before to finally getting this critical job done. Please actively add your support to the construction of Edmunds' first elevator, to be installed by 2010. Please also help direct city, state and/or federal funds to this project."

1. Attend the next full school board meeting. Just be present or speak up during the public comment period. May 19, 2009, 7 PM, Burlington High School cafeteria.

2. Write letters to the editors of the Burlington Free Press and Seven Days. Also, alert your neighbors about this issue via Front Porch Forum, and comment on the Seven Days blog post and Free Press article online.

3. Contact Burlington School Commissioners.

4. Contact Mayor Kiss.

5. Contact Burlington City Councilors.

6. Contact Governor Douglas.

7. Contact your Vermont State Reps. and State Senators.

8. Contact Vermont's Congressional Delegation: Sen. Leahy, Sen. Sanders, Rep. Welch.

9. Keep up to date... subscribe to this blog.


  1. Clarification about EMS accessibility letter to editor by S. DeBrosse [BFP 5/17]

    I certainly hope that Edmunds can become more accessible. For now, those that would like to access the building have some options. There are two accessible entrances to the Edmunds Gym (voting ,graduations, and sporting events): Take the South Union side walk towards the North side of gym. The double door is even with the gym floor. A second entrance is available from the "lower parking lot" to the gym. On the right side of the gym entrance there is a small elevator that will reach the gym floor. As for other floors at Edmunds, you can access the second floor, cafeteria, and first floor of the Edmunds Elementary school by entering at the Edmunds Elementary turnaround off of Main Street. You can take two ramps down to the cafetria or up to the second floor of Edmunds. While these are not ideal solutions, I would hate for family and friends to miss out on graduations, voting, sporting events because of misinformation.
    M. Chandler
    Edmunds MS teacher

  2. Mark... I invite you to try to use either of those middle school gym entrances in a wheelchair. They simply don't cut it. And the half-floor lift serving the gym is locked and you must find a maintenance person to unlock it to get into the gym and then again to get out... which, of course, you can't do if he's not in the gym. It's an unsafe and demeaning situation.