PARIS —  The SAD 17 Board of Directors were told by Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School educators at its December 3 meeting that a new program to reduce freshmen class failure appears to be working.

“I really believe this program is where it’s at,” said  Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School Principal Ted Moccia of the the Building Assets, Reducing Risks (BARR) program.

Director of Applied Learning Pat Carson said the Building Assets Reducing Risk program is aimed at improving student performance during the freshman year  by improving relationships and establishing structures and resources aimed at making each student successful.

The goal is to have at least 90 percent of freshmen students passing six or more of their classes. The program has already witnessed a reduction in failure from 226 students in the school year 2015-2016 to 91 this past school year

Along with Carson, high school assistant principals Laurie Catanese and John Springer told the directors about the ways the program looks at individual factors – many from outside influences – that are causing failure and the attempts, through a variety of methods including individual meetings, to address the problems by finding ways to resolve them.

A number of schools across the nation and nearly a dozen in Maine, including nearby RSU 16 (Poland, Mechanic Falls and Minot) have implemented and seen success with the program.


Carson said he hopes by the 2020-2021 school year, the goal of 90 percent success will be implemented in the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School freshmen class.


The Board of Directors  also voted to declare the West Paris director’s seat, held by Toby Whitman, vacant.

Whitman has not been present at meetings since last May and a letter from board Chairman Diane Olsen to Whitman about the intent to declare the seat vacant went unanswered, she said.

The board also heard from Superintendent Rick Colpitts that the deed to the yellow school house on Main Street in Norway has been signed over to the Town of Norway and that Head Football Coach Mark Soehren has been awarded Coach of the Year. Assistant Football Coach Nate Danforth has been named Assistant Coach of the year and Colton Carson, a senior, has been awarded the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Football Player of the Year.

He also noted the resignation of long time food service delivery driver and Yankee’s fan John Conrad at the Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School.

Other business

In other business, the board:

  • approved the superintendent’s nomination of Jason Tarr as director of the Western Maine Regional Program for Children with Exceptionalities from  SAD 17, SAD 44 in Bethel and SAD 72 in Fryeburg. The regional program provides individualized educational opportunities for students including traditional curriculum and hands-on experiences at the Oxford Hills Technical School, and off-site at Robert’s Farm and other non-traditional classrooms.
  • approved the superintendent’s nomination of Heidi Durgin as Adult Education Career Pathways/College Transitions Coordinator; Kate Molloy as part-time Adult Education Teacher in Buckfield and Kyle Ring as Food Service delivery driver at Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School;
  • accepted a $500 donation from William O’Donnell to the Agnes Gray/Legion Memorial schools to be used to begin developing a 2 kilometer hiking and snowshoe trail;
  • approved coaching candidates for the winter 2018-2019 athletic season as follows:  Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School- Assistant Alpine Ski Coach Heather Van Decker; Freshman Girl’s Basketball Coach Crystal West; Boys/Girls Indoor Track Head Coach Darren Bantz and Oxford Hills Middle School-Alpine Ski Head Coach Colleen Winslow.

Comments are not available on this story.