5-6-15 – Concord High School Closing

Posted by John McClaughry

On April 28 the voters of Concord finally voted to close their high school. The vote was 285 to close, to 210 to continue. This was the tenth vote on closing the high school over the past twenty years, and will almost surely be the last.

There are now 65 students in grades 9-12. Starting in September, today’s juniors, sophomores and freshmen will have full school choice. The great majority of them are likely to choose St. Johnsbury Academy, a premier independent school just seven miles down the road.

For years the school board has been bitterly divided on the issue. To satisfy parents who complained about the low quality of the high school, the board voted to keep the school open, but pay tuition to kids who wanted to leave. Fourteen chose that option, and most if not all chose the Academy.

The school board never considered closing the public high school, and leasing out the classrooms to an independent school created to meet the desires of the kids who wanted to stay. This is what Winhall and North Bennington did with their K-8 schools.

Interestingly, Concord could have kept its high school if a decade ago it had accepted St. Johnsbury Academy’s offer to operate the Concord school as a satellite site. The school board turned it down, mainly out of town pride.

Other towns may follow the same path as Concord, and having school choice will benefit their kids.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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