PARIS — While clean-up and repair from the Oct. 1 fire Paris Elementary School (PES) continues this week, fifth and sixth grade students are attending classes at educational centers at Roberts Farm in Norway and the 4-H Camp and Learning Center in Bryant Pond. Pre-K through fourth graders were able to resume their regular classes at the school Monday

The school was closed last week 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 hallway in the 5th/6th grade wing of Paris Elementary School, stripped of ceiling tiles and cleaned following last Tuesday’s fire, which was set in the girls’ restroom. Submitted photo

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

SERVPRO sent a crew of more than 15 workers to the school, removing ceiling tiles, scrubbing the spaces above and cleaning the fifth and sixth grade wing’s air handler units and areas connected to them.

“The biggest challenge to reopening the school has been getting new materials,” Superintendent Rick Colpitts said on Monday. “We have the manpower to do the work but couldn’t get delivery of 5,000 new ceiling tiles until this morning.”

The pre-K through third grade rooms and the library, cafeteria and gym had no soot carry through the duct work, but administrators had all the rooms and contents, including furniture, textbooks and supplies, extensively cleaned. Those sections of the building as well as the cafeteria, library and gymnasium sustained much less smoke damage.


As of Monday, most of the air system and class room clean-up of the the fifth and sixth grade wing had been completed. Installation of replacement ceiling tiles is underway and Colpitts expects that work to be done by the end of the week. He also hopes that new fixtures and paint to repair the bathroom where the fire was contained will be ready when students return to school next Tuesday.

Without classrooms to report to, fifth- and sixth-graders are being bused to Roberts Farm and the University of Maine 4-H Camp & Learning Center for classes, with about 60 at each location.

“The sixth grade is at the 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond this morning,” Colpitts said. “But because of the rain today, we transported fifth graders to the Armory in Norway for their classes. The rooms at Roberts Farm aren’t large enough to hold 60 students at once in bad weather.”

Western Maine Land Trust owns the Robert Farm educational center on Roberts Road in Norway. The 4-H Camp & Learning Center at Bryant Pond is managed by University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

“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.

PES Principal Lori Pacholski collaborated with staff at both locations on lessons and activities that are being led by PES teachers. Since all textbooks and supplies are undergoing thorough cleaning, both remote sites will provide class materials for the week.

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