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On Tuesday, January 14, Rochester residents voted 220-113 to keep their high school open.
Rochester School offers public education for students in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade. The school's total enrollment has decreased from 250 in 2004 to 143 in 2013, and the high school has decreased from 94 to 55 students in that same time. While Rochester School's high school completion and post-secondary enrollment rates are in line with state averages, many high school students are scoring below state averages on statewide assessments in reading and mathematics.
This past October, Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA) consultant John Everitt presented a study titled "Options for Sustainability of the Rochester Secondary School" to the Rochester School Board. The study sought to answer two major questions: "What needs to happen in order for the secondary program to grow and attract more students?" and "If the program does not grow, what are the options for students and what are the tax consequences?"
The secondary program must grow, Everitt reported, for it to continue to operate. If it does not grow, he presented three options: Rochester School could close its secondary program and designate an area high school for its students, it could close its secondary program and allow families to choose the program they'd like to attend or it could establish a joint high school with one or more area high schools and develop magnet campuses, with the Rochester campus focused on the arts.
On Tuesday, residents voted to continue the school's secondary program. The vote was a nonbinding referendum.