Fitness equipment to be auctioned by Oxford Hills School District

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PARIS – More than 100 pieces of exercise equipment are being sold by the Oxford Hills School District.

Universal weight machines, multiple pairs of dumbbells, dumbbell and squat racks, electrically-powered Life Fitness steppers, treadmills and weight-lifting belts are some of the items.

“We’ve got at least 25 big pieces, cardio and strength pieces combined with multiple accessories,” district employee Lance Belanger said of the items.

Belanger oversees part of the $1.1 million Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant the district received last year for new fitness equipment.

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Individual pieces of equipment or lots are being auctioned off by written bid until Jan. 18. Although the advertisements in local newspapers and Craigslist are less than a week old, Belanger said he has already received seven emails of interest or inquiries about the equipment.

The old equipment, much of it bought in the 1990s, is being stored in the former fitness room of the Oxford Hills Middle School in Paris. It is available for viewing by contacting Belanger. The room will be used for the new equipment purchased last year.

The high school recently opened its new fitness center, complete with 45 state-of-the-art pieces, including treadmills, cycles, elliptical machines, weigh-lifting sets for use by staff and students.

The U.S. Department of Education PEP grant was part of more than $35 million awarded to 76 local education agencies and community-based organizations around the country, and the only one granted in northern New England.

The three-year grant was a collaborative effort among the Oxford Hills School District, the Telstar School District in Bethel (SAD 44), the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center in Bryant Pond and the Bethel-based Mahoosuc Kids Association. The majority of the money goes to the Oxford Hill’s School District, which is using it to address the region’s issues with obesity, sedentary lifestyles and a growing diabetes rate.

In addition to the fitness centers, school officials also bought a climbing wall for the middle school. Additionally, skis, snowshoes and new canoes and kayaks are being shared with SAD 44. The skis and snowshoes will be used on trails at the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway, and the kayaks and canoes will be used by Oxford Hills and SAD 44 students who attend the 4-H camp in Bryant Pond. The Oxford Hills School District has an agreement with Roberts Farm Preserve to use some of their land for outdoor gardens, whereas classroom space and trails are used for fitness activities.

Eventually, Belanger said they would store the canoe and kayak trailer at Roberts Farm Preserve so students can use the equipment on nearby Lake Pennesseewasee. The trailer can be moved wherever students in the Oxford Hills School District or SAD 44 need them, he noted.

Effect on taxpayers

Superintendent Rick Colpitts said the funds raised by selling the old fitness equipment will be returned to the general fund and used to offset any school budget increases to taxpayers. Colpitts said the PEP grant is not costing the taxpayers any additional money.

Colpitts said the grant requires “in-kind funding,” which came from outside organizations, including the University of Maine, New Balance, Stephens Memorial Hospital, SAD 44 and the Mahoosuc Kids Association, he said.

The district’s in-kind donations include some of the wages the district spends on nursing, secretarial and accounting support.

Colpitts said the funding provides for paid positions, including a grant director to oversee the grant and an experiential educator.

“Both positions are necessary for the period of the grant but are not expected to continue after the grant,” he said.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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