PARIS — Fifth- and sixth-graders from Paris Elementary School will attend classes at educational centers in Norway and Bryant Pond starting Monday while professionals continue cleaning up smoke damage from two fires at the High Street building this week.

The school has been closed since Tuesday after fires were set in two bathrooms on separate levels by a student who ignited paper materials. An 11-year-old girl was charged with arson in both incidents, officials said.

The fires caused significant smoke damage in the wing for fifth and sixth grades and moderate smoke damage to the wing for third and fourth grades.

Firefighters respond to Paris Elementary School on High Street for a report of a fire Tuesday morning. A student was charged with arson in connection with two bathroom fires. A.M. Sheehan/Advertiser Democrat

SERVPRO has a crew of more than 15 workers at the school. Ceiling tiles have been removed and the spaces above are being scrubbed. The fifth and sixth grade wing’s air handler units and areas connected to them are being completely cleaned.

“The biggest challenge we face is getting new materials,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts said. “We have the manpower to do the work, but it takes time to get delivery of 5,000 ceiling tiles.”

He said it’s “lucky that the air system in that wing was separate from most of the building. The pre-K through third grade rooms and the library, cafeteria and gym had no soot carry through. If all goes as planned, those spaces will be ready for class to start back up Monday, and the following week for the others.

Meanwhile, fifth- and sixth-graders will be bused to classrooms at the Roberts Farm in Norway and the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center in Bryant Pond starting Monday, Colpitts said, with about 60 at each location.

“We only had to make two calls,” he said. “And they were to Western Maine Land Trust and the 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond.” Both locations confirmed SAD 17 would be able to send the two grades to their facilities.

Western Maine Land Trust owns the Robert Farm educational center on Roberts Road in Norway.

“We have had a long relationship with both of these organizations so our kids are going to an environment familiar to them,” Colpitts said. Students have participated in learning activities at both sites.

Since all textbooks and supplies are undergoing thorough cleaning, both remote sites will provide class materials for the week.

Paris Elementary School Principal Lori Pacholski is working with staff at both locations on lessons and activities for the teachers, Colpitts said.

All students should report to Paris Elementary as usual starting Monday. No permission slips will be needed, he said.


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