The Rochester High School (RHS) graduated its last class in 2018. The Rochester Stockbridge Unified District (RSUD) closed the RHS building during the pandemic and subsequently determined it is no longer needed for educational purposes, closing the building permanently. The agreement merging the Rochester and Stockbridge school boards into a unified district, per Act 46, stipulates the sale price of the RHS building to the Town of Rochester at $1.00, if the Town should seek to purchase it. As of 1/15/22 the RSUD Board has made no capital improvements to the RHS building.
The agreement states that such a sale is conditioned by the following:“ . . . shall be conditioned upon the Town/City owning and utilizing the real property for community and public purposes for a minimum of five years. In the event a Town/City elects to sell the real property prior to five years of ownership, the Town/City shall compensate the Unified District for all capital improvements and renovations completed after the formation of the Unified District and before the sale to the Town/City.”
About the Repurposing Committee
In February 2020 a volunteer RHS Repurposing Committee formed and by late spring began to meet regularly to explore repurposing options for the building into a multi-use facility, designed to meet community identified local and regional needs. The work has been done with consent from the Rochester Select Board and RSUD Board. The goal of this community led effort is for a repurposed RHS building to be a financially viable and sustaining operation, continuing its legacy as a vibrant center for learning, the arts, and social engagement, serving this region and beyond.
On behalf of the Town of Rochester, in April 2021 members of the committee wrote and submitted a planning grant to the VT Department of Housing and Community Development, to fund a feasibility study of a repurposed RHS building. This grant was awarded in the amount of $50,000, with which the Town retained the services of Fairweather Consultants of New Paltz, NY, and GBA Architects of Montpelier, VT.
The study will include projected profit and loss, a master space plan, master facility capital improvement plan, and a high level assessment of possible funding sources, with a projected completion in summer of 2022. Also evaluated will be the pros and cons of Town ownership of the building vs. ownership by a local nonprofit corporation. The results of the feasibility study will be presented at a Special Town Meeting this summer to vote on Town acquisition of the building.