OTISFIELD — A majority of School Administrative District 17 directors agreed Monday night to move forward with a plan to place a school resource officer in the Guy E. Rowe Elementary School.

The position will be paid with a $125,000 grant the Norway Police Department recently received from the Office of Community Oriented Police Services, or COPS, in the U.S. Department of Justice.

A motion by director Robert Jewell of Paris to table to request until further details could be ironed out was defeated.

The approval means the board will sign a Memorandum of Understanding, in effect agreeing to the use of the COPS grant.

Norway Police Chief Rob Federico and Rowe Elementary School Principal Dan Hart appeared before the board Monday night in the Otisfield Community School to lay out plans for the district’s largest elementary school.

The officer’s primary goal is to be a role model and to build a positive relationship with the children, their parents and the school staff, Federico said.

“The relationship must be built on trust” he said.

The role of the officer will be significantly different than that at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and the Oxford Hills Middle School, both in Paris. There, the officer serves primarily as a law enforcer.

Although the elementary school officer will be a police officer and will be uniformed and wear a gun, there will be times when wearing a uniform will not be appropriate, such as on a field trip.

Federico, who hired a drug officer with another COPS grant several years ago, said he saw the success of that grant and decided to apply again. He and Hart worked out what the role and responsibility of the officer will be.

Despite concern from at least one director about future funding of the position, the board was told that if the position is continued after the grant ends, it will be the responsibility of the town of Norway.

On Thursday, the Norway Board of Selectmen voted to support funding the officer for the Rowe school on Main Street.

Under the terms of the grant, the town will pay 10 percent of the cost for the position for the first year, 30 percent the second year and 60 percent the third year. At that time, the town will be responsible for 100 percent of the costs if it continues the program. The total local share is $65,000.

The school board must issue a Memorandum of Understanding for the plan to go forward.

In other news, the directors heard from about a dozen students from Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School who were concerned about what they termed “inappropriate” treatment of students by directors at a previous meeting.

The students appeared at two board meetings to ask permission to wear hats in the classroom. The request was denied, but members said they were pleased the students had an opportunity to go through the process of policymaking at the school board level.

Student Council Chairman Jordon Labbe read a statement from the council saying members felt the “lack of order in the meeting” caused the majority of the problems. They felt there were personal attacks on the students’ intelligence and character, among other concerns.

Board Chairman Ron Kugell said he would respond to the concern in writing, but several board members said they would like more specific information from the students before drafting a response.

Business Manager Cathy Coffey, Facilities Director Nelson Baillargeon and Superintendent Rick Colpitts presented a report on the district’s energy performance contracts. The district has saved money and reduced its carbon footprint in the past seven years. Some schools switched to wood pellet heating and the high school changed to a wood chip furnace.

The performance contracts are with Siemens, which guarantees a financial savings for the district through various energy-saving measures.

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