FORT KENT, Maine – It was “a sad day for both SAD 27 and the St. John Valley,” SAD 27 Superintendent Pat O’Neill said Thursday, as the district received word that its director of finance and projects, James J. Grandmaison, died suddenly during a bicycling trip in Italy on Wednesday.

Grandmaison was 56 years old.

“We are all shocked, just stunned and saddened,” O’Neill said Thursday. “Jim was young and in great shape. He was very active. We’re just stunned that he left us so suddenly.”

Grandmaison had worked for the school district for more than 15 years, according to the superintendent. The avid cyclist had been planning the trip to Italy with some friends for the past six months.

“He just left for Italy on Monday and got there on Tuesday,” said O’Neill. “On his second day there, he just finished a short bike trek and collapsed. He couldn’t be revived and was pronounced dead at the scene.”

All of the faculty and staff in the district have been notified, according to O’Neill, but many of the students have not heard the news because schools are out for potato harvest break.

Funeral plans are pending.