PARIS — With the resignation of another school bus driver last month, Oxford Hills no longer has transportation to Hebron Station Elementary School, or for students from Hebron attending the middle and high schools in Paris for one of the two Hebron routes.

A speaker identified on the School Administrative District 17 board agenda as Lydia Breault reads a statement  Monday to directors in Paris likening injections to crimes punishable by death. Nicole Carter/Advertiser Democrat

“The driver shortage is becoming more acute,” Superintendent Monica Henson told directors of School Administrative District 17 on Monday night. “Staff substitutes will be able to alleviate some of the problem, but they are not able to serve as full-time drivers. The process for becoming licensed is time consuming. It will be near the end of the fall semester before we have staff subs finished with the current licensing effort and road-ready to drive.”

“We’re talking about staggered start times (for schools) and a couple of other things along those lines,” Lew Williams, Hebron  director and chairman of the Operations Committee, said.

“We will make adjustments to start and end schedules at several schools, beginning after Thanksgiving,” Henson said. “We are already doing this at Harrison and Waterford. But we’re going to change times to enable us to use a group of buses to get kids to school in their buildings at the same time. For example, for the school that starts earliest we would have three or four buses blitz that one route so that we get those kids in the building as fast as we can.

“If we continue with the same start times for all our elementary schools with the lack of drivers available, we won’t get the kids in the building . . . it’s causing a hardship for our families. We’re going to try the bus blitz approach. It will mean some kids start earlier and some kids will stay at school later, but we’ll at least be able to transport them.”

Hebron Station School Principal D.J. Thorne said Tuesday that one of Hebron’s two school routes was canceled. “It affects about 20 Hebron Station School students who live in the northeast section of town,” he said. “Families whose children normally ride Bus 32 currently have to coordinate or provide their transportation.


“There were two days when we had no bus transportation at all in Hebron,” Thorne said, adding that he could not comment on what the factors were. “Parents have been pretty understanding but it has not been easy for anyone. The bus stops are pretty spread out. Walking to school is not an option for them either.”

Thorne said he is not sure how long it will take for the bus route to be restarted or how many middle and high school students are affected. The process to replace a school bus driver includes fingerprinting and background checks that run through the Maine Department of Education, adding time to fielding applications and interviewing.

SAD 17 covers the towns of Norway, Paris, Oxford, Otisfield, Hebron, Harrison, Waterford and West Paris.

In other business at the meeting, Williams said the Operations Committee is working on recommendations for adding portable classrooms to Otisfield Community School. He expects to present them at the board meeting later this month.

Director Bob Jewell of Paris, chairman of the Finance Committee, said the district’s annual audit is underway. Chief Financial Officer Carrie Colley has made progress correcting issues that resulted in coronavirus relief bill funds not being approved by the federal government, he said. Due to her work, SAD 17 has not had to borrow from its tax and revenue anticipation loan the board approved Sept. 7.

Henson told directors she contracted former Assistant Superintendent Patrick Hartnett to serve the district as a Title IX investigator for complaints of discrimination. She is the only administrator who is qualified to handle such cases. Hartnett will provide an interim solution and she is working with Drummond Woodsum law firm on the matter while other administrators receive the required training.


Henson also said SAD 17 is hosting a legislative breakfast Wednesday at Oxford Hills High School and distributed a list of topics she expects to be discussed. More than 30 participants are expected, including representatives for U.S. Sens. Angus King and Susan Collins. She extended the invitation to all board members.

During the public comment period two people made statements.

One person, whose name was listed as Lydia Breault but had no address, read a statement that contained references to the state constitution. She said injections are dangerous weapons that people have died from and she lumped the use of them to crimes such as kidnapping, aggravated sexual abuse and attempted murder that have punishments of life imprisonment or a death sentence.

Her comments were similar to others made to school boards in the area. At a Regional School Unit 16 directors meeting Oct. 4, Jennifer Bessette of Minot, who has three children in the district’s schools, said requiring students to wear masks is akin to the tactics of sexual predators who abuse children. She called the district “a breeding ground for teachers, administrators, board members to human traffic these kids in our public schools.”

The three COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the U.S. – Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson – have the stamp of approval for safety and effectiveness from advisory panels from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“One of the great benefits of the three COVID-19 vaccines is that clinical trials and real-world experience indicate that the risk of severe side effects is remarkably low, even for people who have experienced side effects with other vaccines,” Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said last month.


As of Nov. 1, more than 423 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S., according to the U.S. CDC. Studies cited by the U.S. CDC show that fully vaccinated people were five times less likely to contract COVID and more than 10 times less likely to be hospitalized or die from complications compared to unvaccinated people.

The other speaker who addressed the board Monday, Jason Brine, a parent from Oxford, focused his statements on the rules students must follow but adults do not. He also talked about the frustration of parents with the lack of bus transportation and referenced drugs.

“There are four shuttle buses over here for ride source, state funded, right?” Brine asked. So why don’t we start asking the state funded — I mean tax-payer funded — buses that are sitting around here doing nothing, or some of the other places around that can do something for the children.”

Brine said there is more that can be done as a community, pointing out that he was providing transportation for children.

“Let’s all just get this crap together,” he said. “You’re adults, use your brain and let’s try and get something done, OK? I’ll have a good day and you all have a good day, too.”

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