PARIS — The town is moving forward with reacquiring Mildred M. Fox School from School Administrative District 17 after an employee with the Maine Municipal Association inspected the building for insurance purposes last week.

According to Paris Town Manager Amy Bernard, John Waterbury of MMA Risk Management toured the two-story facility at 10 East Main St. on Wednesday, Feb. 4. The building currently houses the Oxford Hills Christian Academy.

In Bernard’s manager’s report released at Monday’s selectmen’s meeting, she wrote that Waterbury told her the school appeared to be a solid building. She had been absent from the meeting due to illness.

Ed MacDonald, loss control manager for MMA, said by phone Monday that Waterbury hasn’t yet drafted a report on his findings, but it would be made public once it has been released to the town.

“It is not unusual … for them to ask us to look at it for insurance purposes, if its assessed values look appropriate and … what kind of insurance coverage (to get),” MacDonald said about the town. “We were asked to take a cursory look at it.”

In December 2014, selectmen unanimously passed a resolution to accept the school from SAD 17 as soon as possible. Future uses eyed for the building include a recreation, community and arts center; a business incubator or possibly retrofitting the structure into apartments.


The town’s recently accepted strategic plan champions turning the school into an arts center.

According to SAD 17 Superintendent Rick Colpitts, if the School Board were to give up the building, it would first have to be offered back to the town under state statue, since the town originally owned it in the 1960s. SAD 17 initially wanted to keep Fox School to house its central office, but that plan changed last summer, when administrators moved into the Western Maine University building on Main Street in South Paris.

“I don’t have a place to move my programs that are there now — that is part of the hold up,” Colpitts said by phone Monday, adding that the school houses two adult education classrooms and offices for teachers of the Gifted and Talented Program.

He suspects new homes for these programs wouldn’t be found until June and the move could become effective July 1. Colpitts doesn’t anticipate that the School Board will take any action on the Fox School until April or May.

Colpitts previously said that there are three lots which comprise the Fox School: the lot the school sits on; the lot next to the school, containing the bus loop; and the parking lot across the street from the First Congregational Church of South Paris.

The School Board would have to examine if one or more of the lots are needed for educational purposes before giving the building and the other lots back to the town.

Oxford Hills Christian Academy is home to 54 students from kindergarten through grade 12, according to Administrator Steve Holbrook. A three-year lease was signed this summer between the academy and SAD 17, but there’s a 90-day termination clause for both parties, Colpitts previously said.

“We know our days are probably limited here,” Holbrook said by phone Monday about finding or building another facility for the academy. “We know that we have to do something. … We are beginning to do some homework. We are going to be a miracle that will happen, because it’s got to be God that does something. We know that we are acknowledging it and we’re not sitting still.”

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