The Cabot High School will stay open.
That was the decision reached at a packed school meeting last night. By a vote of 322 to 147, the town rejected a proposal to close the high school and send its 65 students to other schools in the region.
Before the debate, moderator Ed Smith made a plea for civil discourse in an issue that has deeply divided the community.
"We were neighbors before this meeting started. We’re going to be neighbors afterwards. So let’s behave like neighbors while we’re here," Smith said.
Supporters of closing the high school said declining enrollments and rising per-pupil costs are hurting taxpayers. They said students would have more educational opportunities if they had a choice about what school to attend with the town picking up the tuition.
Cedric Houston said he attended the high school, as did many of his relatives in town. But he said the quality of education has declined while taxes have gone up.
"I would love to save this school. I really would. But when I see what’s happening, what some of the kids that come out of here are doing. I won’t mention any names on any of them, that’s for sure. But there’s a lot of them are having to go to other schools for a year before they can get to college," Houston said.
But school supporters said the high school offered on-line courses and other programs that broadened education beyond the town’s borders. Mary Carpenter said she didn’t want to relinquish control over how her tax dollars are spent.
"I have no interest in sending money to St. Johnsbury. I don’t want to send money to Danville. I don’t want to send money to Hazen. I don’t want to spend money anywhere but to my own community. And I want a choice in how that money is spent," Carpenter said.
After the school closing item was defeated, voters approved the $3.6 million K-12 school budget by a vote of 161 to 59.