Town Narrowly Votes To Close 2-Room School
But members of the community who oppose closing the Northam School, which is more than 100 years old, are circulating a petition calling for a new vote on the issue, according to Linda Berryhill, a member of the town's school board. In an April 14 referendum that attracted the attention of preservationists, residents voted 188 to 187 to cease operating the school.
Under the plan approved by the voters, the town would expand the Shrewsbury Mountain School, which enrolls some 60 students in kindergarten and in grades 3-6, to serve the 35 1st and 2nd graders who now attend Northam. The expansion would cost about $348,000.
Ms. Berryhill said the real issue in the referendum was money, because the town would have to raise property taxes to expand the Mountain School.
"The nostalgia issue only came up in the last six weeks,'' she said.
While conceding that concern over taxes had influenced the vote, Kurtis Johnson, an editor at the state's historic-preservation office, maintained that opponents of the closing were more interested in preserving the old building and the concept of education it represents. He estimated that there are fewer than 12 one- or two-room schoolhouses in Vermont.--A.P.