CABOT — With the unsuccessful attempt to close the high school behind them, school officials in Cabot are moving forward with an attempt to win over those who want school choice.
Residents voted down the measure to close the high school by a two-to-one margin on Town Meeting Day on Tuesday.
Had the effort been successful, Cabot would have had to tuition its high school students out to area schools. Those in favor said tuitioning students would save the town money, but school officials have refuted this.
Supporters of closing the high school also complained that students at Cabot don’t get the same opportunities as students at other schools.
School Board Chairman Chris Tormey said the goal now is to continue to communicate the value the school has for its students.
Cabot and Twinfield will be joining the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union on July 1. The move comes at the direction of the state Board of Education under Act 46, the state’s school merger law. The state board decided in November to dissolve Washington Northeast Supervisory Union, which consisted of Cabot and Twinfield, and move the two schools into the Caledonia Central Supervisory Union.
Tormey said over the next year there will be conversations under the new supervisory union about how to improve opportunities for all students.
“And hopefully those conversations will bear some fruit,” he said.
The only high school currently in the CCSU is Danville. Tormey said it’s possible high school students from Cabot, Twinfield and Danville could attend the other high schools under the supervisory union to expand opportunities for students. A similar idea was floated a couple years ago when the three schools were in talks to potentially merge under Act 46.
That effort was ultimately unsuccessful. But the idea would have allowed students to attend another school for a semester based on what kind of education they were looking for. Residents have previously suggested one of the high schools could be art-centered, another tech-centered, and so on.
Tuesday’s failed high school closure vote was similar to an effort that also failed in 2013. Tormey said he wasn’t sure if the vote Tuesday was the final nail in the coffin for possibly closing the high school. He said cost was a big factor in both votes.
“What I hope is that folks are getting the message that, at least at this point, tuitioning students is going to be a good deal more expensive,” Tormey said. “Hopefully we can do some communication with the community and do some outreach to other districts to not only make it clear to folks what we have here, but also try to expand the opportunities for kids who are looking for something different.”
Mark Tucker, the superintendent of the Washington Northeast Supervisory Union, said "this margin is effectively immune to a possible petition for revote, due to the margin.”