School begins with enthusiasm, many changes

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Jane Morse, director of special services, told the SAD 17 Board of Directors that she assembled a great team to work with. She also noted that the budget has received a boost from the transfer of several high cost,  out of district student placements over the summer.

PARIS — SAD 17 administrators told the Board of Directors at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 4, that the opening day of school last week was successful from the professional development many teachers had during the summer to the spotless buildings and smiling faces of children getting off the school buses.

“We’re thrilled to be back,” said Agnes Gray Elementary School Principal Beth Clarke, echoing other administrators.

Schools opened for classes on August 29 and 30 and, despite the heat and humidity, everyone, including many parents, made sure the children who did not have air conditioning, were comfortable with plenty of water, fans and even Popsicles

Many changes have taken place over the summer including the new semester schedule at the Oxford Hills Middle School that principal Paul Bickford said restored “a sense of calm” to the students who will no longer have to move between North and South campus; the hookup of the Oxford Elementary School to the town sewer completed just as school started; a focus on “start with hello” practise at the Hebron Station School.

At the Paris Elementary School students welcomed a new principal, Lori Pacholski, and assistant principal, Cathy Bickford, and at the Otisfield Community School, Jessika Sheldrick now serves as principal.

The Oxford Comprehensive High School saw the return of the successful mentoring program that brings junior and seniors to welcome the incoming freshmen. A total of 269 high school students are enrolled this falls in athletics. Waterford Elementary School has a new coat of exterior paint. Rowe Elementary has 10 new staff members.

“It was awesome and exciting,” summed up Paul Bickford of the opening of school.

In other business, the board declared the Streaked Mountain School building at 160 Main Street in Norway “unnecessary for educational purposes” and authorized the superintendent to dispose of it as surplus property.

The town of Norway will have the first option to be given the building under state statute. If the town declines to accept the building, it will be offered for sale at market price.

Last February, some board members said the Streaked Mountain School was no longer a viable educational space and asked what it would take to move students to a new space after some directors toured the facility and said they felt it was not a good learning space.

Issues such as the problem heating system and pipes freezing were noted at the time. The decision to look into a long-term lease at another building followed a tour by the SAD 17 Finance and Operations Committee on Feb. 5.

The 164-year-old building is used by about 20 students in the Streaked Mountain School program in the mornings, and about 10 to 12 students from the school and others in the afternoon for individualized instruction. The school has now leased space for the Streaked Mountain School across the street from the high school in Paris.

The board also approved the superintendent to make an application to the Department of Education for reimbursement of costs for leased interim instructional space at the new Streaked Mountain School facility.

The classes are held in the old Verizon storefront of a strip mall on Main Street in Paris, across from the high school. The program offers up to $8 per square foot of reimbursement for leased space.

In other news, the board approved:

  • an anonymous donation of $5,000 to Oxford Elementary School for the specific use of Grade 6 field trips;
  • a trip for the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Interact Club to volunteer at the Common Ground Fair and Moxie Gore Rafting Trip in September and to New York City and the United Nations in November.
  • a trip to New England Aquarium in Boston in November for the high school Science/Marine biology class.
  • the superintendent to make an application to the Department of Education for leased interim instructional space;
  • Julie Clarke as elementary art teacher; Kerry Drown as Grade 3 teacher at Roe Elementary School; Donna Kadlecik, food service assistant at Oxford Hills Middle School and Martha Thompson as Grade 3 teacher at Paris Elementary School;
  • returning appointments to the MVR 11 Board of Directors for a two-year term;
  • a proposal from Picture Perfect Pro painting to paint the Legion School for $7,200. The funds will come from the Contingency Fund.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net