To the Editor:

West Paris is a community large enough to have its own elementary school. West Paris has a proud commitment to its own school. West Paris has been told repeatedly that the school district supports maintaining such a school there. I remember when the superintendent of school came to the gym to drum up support for his budget which included building a new elementary school on High Street in Paris.

He said at the time that he had requested a school large enough to meet the needs of the students there, but not large enough to accommodate the West Paris students. He clearly said that the district supports West Paris having its own school. Can we trust the district to keep its word, or not?

We were pleased when it was announced that the state had put the West Paris school on the list for replacement because it would guarantee us a school. In recent weeks, we have heard about a ‘consolidation’ of students from several schools around the district into a large elementary school, probably in Norway.

Anyone who has lived in towns that support M.S.A.D. #17 knows that it is important to have a community school. It is the center of any of these communities. It gives students a chance to grow in an environment that is close to home and includes their friends. Parents and students get to participate in that growth. This is difficult to replicate in a large school in another town.

When the current superintendent closed the Agnes Gray Elementary School at a moment’s notice, it was a shock to our town, our students, and our faculty. The school was safe on Monday but a dangerous place on Tuesday. No one wants students to be housed in an unsafe building. How could this happen?


The superintendent herself noted in her letter to the district on the district’s web page that delayed maintenance was a significant part of the problem. Why? I am not convinced that no one knew of the problems until the ‘report’ from some engineers. Could this be an example of planned obsolescence? Was there a plan to close the school despite previous commitments?

This has placed an incredible burden on parents who were forced to find new ways to make sure their children were safe before and after school hours, faculty who had to abandon the environment they were accustomed to, and students who were taken from the friendly confines of a community school and bussed to an unfamiliar site with children they did not know in the middle of a school year on a day’s notice.

That is to say nothing of the shift in instruction for students who had educational programs interrupted by the closure. There are reports of West Paris students being bullied on buses and having real difficulty in making such an abrupt change in routine. I believe there will be permanent damage to students’ attitudes toward school, emotional damage, and permanent negative effects despite efforts by the staff to make the transition as smooth as possible.

West Paris citizens need to know their district is committed to the needs of this community.

Rodney Abbott

West Paris

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