CABOT — Residents in Cabot will vote on a school budget on Town Meeting Day that includes funding for the high school while also deciding whether to keep the high school open.

Last month, a petition was submitted to the school board with over 60 signatures on it looking to close down the high school and give those students school choice. The town currently has a pre-k through 12 school system.

School Board Chairman Chris Tormey said Monday he does not support closing down the high school.

“In a town like ours, there’s a diversity of opinion as to whether a high school is serving all of the students as well as it might. It was brought as it can be (by petition) by a group of folks who feel that it would be better to become like a Walden, and pay tuition for our kids to go to another school,” Tormey said.

The petition is similar to one submitted in 2013. Residents voted that article down and kept the high school open.

If this effort is successful, Cabot would have to tuition its students out to area schools. Those in favor of shutting down the school say tuitioning out the students would save the town money, but school officials have said in the past that is not the case and it would cost taxpayers more. Tormey said the Washington Northeast Supervisory Union is currently working on the numbers, which should be available soon so residents will know what the financial impact will be for both decisions before voting next month.

“Every time we’ve run those numbers in the past for (tuitioning students) as an independent district, it has been more expensive,” he said.

The school budget the board has approved is $3,553,060, which is $92,839, or 2.68 percent, more than the current budget. The budget, if approved, would reduce the tax rate by 2.26 percent, which is nearly a 4-cent decrease.

Part of the reason for the decrease is because the town’s common level of appraisal went up from 99.31 percent to 99.84 percent. The CLA is a figure the state uses to adjust local education tax rates based on how accurate it believes local property assessments are.

The budget also takes into account an increase in equalized pupils, up to 177.46 from 176.46.

One of the highlights of the budget includes a $76,840 reduction in special education. Last year, special education costs were a big reason why the budget had gone up, so Tormey said it was good to see that number come back down.

The budget also includes a $52,614 increase in operating the school, the bulk of which comes from a new full-time maintenance position. The board is tackling some construction as well with this budget, including $40,000 for a new cafeteria roof and $50,000 for the school’s air system.

eric.blaisdell

@timesargus.com

Reporter

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