PARIS — The majority of School Administrative District 17 directors voted Monday night to table a decision on whether to start classes later in the day.

They will discuss the issue in July when they have more information.

“I’m still not convinced we have enough to move forward,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts said after outlining four options to address growing evidence that starting classes later in the day has academic and other benefits for students.

SAD 17 officials have been investigating the issue since early 2016, and while many board members agreed then with the research, the struggle was how to make it work with transportation. The district would probably have to adopt a one-run schedule.

Colpitts said the single bus run would cost the district $1.54 million for additional buses, drivers and teacher time. A second alternative would use a single bus run for Norway and Paris and two runs for outlying towns for about $1.29 million for buses and drivers.

A third option to switch the elementary and secondary bus runs so the high school students would start later would have no cost.

Another option, Colpitts said, is to keep the transportation as is and simply run the bus routes half an hour later than they are now. That would mean classes at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School and Oxford Hills Middle School would start at 8 a.m. and the elementary schools would start at 9:15 to 9:30 a.m. instead of 8:45 a.m.

Colpitts said he would prefer the board wait until July so the community can weigh in and he can talk with some of the elementary school principals and perhaps owners of day care centers.

Although not meeting the guidelines by many professionals to start high school at no earlier than 8:30 a.m., Director Natalie Andrews of West Paris said it would at least “start the process.”

“It’s just a better idea,” said Donald Ware of Norway, a proponent of the later start.

Unlike many other school districts, Oxford Hills School District operates a two-run bus schedule and board members had been told that to make it happen would require an additional 10 buses for the fleet.

Other issues of concern have been the impact on after-school sport programs, concern about time enough for academics, how teachers feel about it and busing issues such as younger and older students being bused together.

Top 5 percent

School board members held a reception to honor the Oxford Hills School District Class of 2017 top 5 percent students.

They are Zane Dustin, who will attend the University of Maine in Orono, studying aerospace engineering; Nathaniel McNutt, University of Maine in Orono, robotics; Hannah Hartnett, Colby College, mathematics; Nathan Godbout, University of Maine in Orono, mechanical engineering; and Allysah Elliott, University of Maine in Orono, international affairs.

Also, Julyan West, University of Massachusetts Amherst, astronomy; Brenna MacNeil, University of Maine in Orono, undeclared; Sophia J. Hanscom,  Hawaii Pacific University, marine biology; Kaylee E. Dow, Simmons College, physical therapy; and Emily M. Jackson, University of Maine in Orono, pre-veterinarian science.

Also Tyler D. Ellingwood, Rochester Institute of Technology, engineering; and Cora C. Hooker, Husson University, physical therapy.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a Voice Over Internet Protocol phone system for $261,608 in a lease-purchase agreement. The cost will essentially be absorbed by the savings in the costs of the old system, Business Manager Cathy Coffey said;

* Voted to create a teacher position at Oxford Elementary School to address overcrowding. The position will be funded for about $55,000, including benefits, from the Contingency Fund which has about $400,000;

• Approved the anonymous donation of $1,000 to Paris Elementary School to start a food pantry. The pantry will be supported through donations and not taxpayers, Principal Mary Lou Peterson said;

• Approved the superintendent’s nomination of Dapna Harris, special education and primary resource teacher, and Erin Lavasseur as grade five teacher at Oxford Elementary School.

• Approved the superintendent’s nomination of  Michelle Corbett as Paris Elementary School secretary; Heather Knights as grade two teacher at Hebron Elementary School; and Mathieu Bowen as physical education teacher at Guy E. Rowe Elementary School.

Oxford Hills School District Superintendent Rick Colpitts on Monday evening outlined options for directors on starting classes later in the day.


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