Vocational Region 11 Oxford Hills Tech is leasing the Red School House from the town of Norway to use for a new outdoor recreation management program. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

NORWAY — It has been more than 60 years since anyone has gone to school at Norway’s Red School House. That will soon change.

Oxford Hills Tech School is planning another expansion, and this one includes holding classes at the historic school. Vocational Region 11 Oxford Hills Tech is leasing the Red School House on Route 118 from the town of Norway.

The site will be a base camp of sorts for a new program in the tech school’s hospitality and tourism program, which focuses on outdoor recreation.

“Preliminary work is under way for a new (tech school) class to use the red schoolhouse, (but) this plan is not final,” Director Randy Crockett said. “Our plans include using the schoolhouse as a base for students working on personal watercraft operation and safety, fishing and camping skills.”

Other education activities included in the plans are campfire building and outdoor cooking, ax-handling safety, first aid training and trail work.

“This is a natural partnership,” said Debra Partridge, Norway’s retiring parks and recreation director. “There has always been synergy between Norway and the schools.”


Under the lease agreement, the tech school will be allowed to place a storage shed on the premises but otherwise make no alterations to the building or property without written permission from the town. The tech school will be responsible for heating and monitoring the building’s water lines.

The schoolhouse had been used by several local groups in the past, but in more recent years it has sat mostly dormant. Norway Trackers used to hold membership meetings there, but due to high heating expenses it now meets at the Town Office. The Norway-Paris Fish & Game Association, which used to meet and hold fishing derbies at the site now has its own clubhouse. And the Norway Lake Association pivoted from in-person to Zoom meetings since the pandemic.

The agreement dictates that the tech school will work cooperatively with community groups, municipalities and other organizations that use the property.

Crockett expects to finalize plans and budgets for the new program by June.

To move from plan to execution, the expansion program will need voter approval from the tech school’s sending towns, including Buckfield, during school budget referendum voting in June.

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