PARIS — Maine School Administrative District 17’s board of directors unanimously approved Superintendent Heather Manchester’s 2024-25 school placement plan for students displaced when Agnes Gray Elementary School in West Paris was closed in February.

SAD 17’s operations committee agreed during their meeting last Tuesday to recommend the plan be accepted by the board.

Tuesday marked the second the committee met within a week to sort through school options for elementary students living in West Paris as it concurrently addresses timing and costs to make Agnes Gray Elementary School once again accessible for learning.

Fourteen directors attended the May 29 meeting, including three who joined by Zoom, to hear Superintendent Heather Manchester’s presentation on how SAD 17 will provide education to Agnes Gray’s approximately 125 students.

After the West Paris school abruptly closed in February, following disclosure of a long list of infrastructure failures and life safety concerns, its students were forced to attend classes at either Paris Elementary or Guy E Rowe schools. Working to avoid the upheaval staff as well as children experienced, Manchester unveiled a plan that will bring most students back to PES.

“We’re prioritizing keeping families together and staff jobs,” Manchester explained. “So students from kindergarten through sixth grade will attend Paris Elementary, until it’s determined that Agnes Gray is ready for them to return.


Maine School Administrative District 17’s operations committee endorsed the district administration’s fall 2024 plan for Agnes Gray Elementary School student to attend other schools in Paris, Hebron and Norway. The 22-member school board will vote on the plan at its next meeting. Pictured from left: Directors Veronica Poland of West Paris, Peter Wood of Norway and Board Chair Troy Ripley of Paris; SAD 17 Transportation Director Chuck Beardsley and Finance Director Carrie Colley. Nicole Carter / Advertiser Democrat

“The Legion School [in West Paris] will house two programs of preschool students from Paris and West Paris. The pre-K programs are run in collaboration with Community Concepts that adds an additional layer of staff. So it will be helpful to do it that way.

“And in order to balance the populations of the school, Paris and West Paris families who live along the bus route to Hebron will have the opportunity to send their children to the Hebron Station School.”

Manchester added that other families can apply to transfer their children to Hebron but would have to provide transportation if they are not along the Route 219 roadway. She expects up to 20 students from West Paris to enroll at Hebron.

Similarly, West Paris families whose kids have attended Rowe school in Norway can also opt for them to return there next fall, but bus transportation will not be provided.

For staffing, Agnes Gray Principal Sam Armstrong will be reassigned as PES’ assistant principal, the position she had before transferring to West Paris. Teachers and ed techs who work for Agnes Gray will be be assigned to PES or another SAD 17 school.

Agnes Gray students will no longer be segmented into their previous classroom structure; instead students will integrate with other classes. One additional kindergarten and potentially one first grade class will be added at PES to keep the number of students per class as low as possible. For the older grades, Manchester said class sizes will be 20-22 students.

The directors who sit on the operations committee, Chair Lew Williams and Amanda Fearon of Hebron; Assistant Chair Peter Wood and Kelly Jacobson of Norway; Veronica Poland of West Paris, Gary Smith of Oxford; and Diana Olsen of Otisfield, unanimously endorsed Manchester’s proposal. Seven other directors also attended and spoke in support of the plan: Board Chair Troy Ripley of Paris; Judy Green of Waterford; Gay De Hart, Nathan Broyer and Shauna Broyer of Oxford; Donna Marshall of West Paris; Anna Gregoire of Otisfield.

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