- Associated Press - Saturday, October 14, 2017

CABOT, Vt. (AP) - A Vermont school board said it could save a small high school facing declining enrollment by converting it into an agricultural magnet academy that would attract out-of-state students.

The Cabot School Board plans to decide by Monday whether to pursue such an option to keep the 55-student high school operating, Vermont Public Radio reported . In recent years, programming and facility maintenance budgets have faced cuts as student numbers declined.

Members of a school board working group say a federal development fund could support the proposed Cabot Academy. The federal government had awarded Cabot Creamery funding with the stipulation that the money be repaid to the community and not the government.

“People who’ve moved to Cabot have told us that Cabot, for them, is unique because it offers hands-on training through partnerships … that are difficult to come by in an urban area,” Cabot resident Fran Voigt said. Voigt said the proposed academy could provide students with agricultural opportunities through partnerships with local farms.

The proposal would ask for the town to give Cabot Academy $250,000 from the federal Urban Development Action Grant fund and loan the institution another $250,000 from the fund.

Out-of-state students would be charged $45,500 per year under the plan. That money would go to tuition, room and board and enrichment programs for the entire Cabot High School community.

The school board could also decide Monday to close the high school. It would then ask voters to approve joining a high school tuitioning district with Walden, Waterford and Barnet.

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