Those negotiating Richmond’s withdrawal from Regional School Unit 2 are scheduled to meet for the second time Wednesday. Above, Richmond High School and Middle School in a photograph taken in November 2019.

RICHMOND — The sides negotiating Richmond’s withdrawal from Regional School Unit 2 are scheduled to meet for the second time Wednesday to continue efforts toward completion of an agreement, perhaps by month’s end.

A group of RSU 2 administrators and board members received their first look last week at the proposed agreement, on which Richmond’s withdrawal committee has been working for about six weeks.

By the time they meet again, district officials are expected to supply the remaining information needed to complete negotiations for Richmond to exit RSU 2.

In many respects, the document is like a divorce agreement, in which assets and liabilities are listed and divided between the parties — real property, debt, agreements and contracts for equipment and services.

But the proposed division of staff is a bit more complicated. The district, which includes Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell, Monmouth and Richmond, shares positions among schools. A staff member based at one school might have duties in several schools.

“We have positions, like occupational therapist and psychologist, that work across the school district,” said Debora Murphy, director of special education for the district.

In the event of a withdrawal, Murphy said, those positions could continue by contract between RSU 2 and the Richmond school district.

“We can’t say that’s a good agreement, because there might be an agreement to share services with Wiscasset or Mt. Ararat,” said O’Neil LaPlante, chairman of the withdrawal committee and chairman of the Richmond Board of Selectmen.

Any agreements would be negotiated by a Richmond school board, if voters agree to leave RSU 2. The timing of that decision remains up in the air.

Under the state law that governs withdrawals, a negotiated agreement must be submitted by June 30 to the Maine Department of Education, so the question can be put to voters in November.

If those deadlines can be met, and voters agree, Richmond, with its elementary, middle and high schools, would be its own district, beginning July 1, 2021. If the deadlines are not met, the next possible withdrawal date is July 1, 2022.

This process got its start last November, when a group of Richmond residents submitted a petition seeking to put the withdrawal question to voters. After a majority of voters agreed to investigate withdrawal in early March, the town committee appointed to oversee the process began requesting information from the district.

The process has been complicated by restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the departure of Cheri Towle, RSU 2’s superintendent.

At the same time, RSU 2, like every other school district in Maine, had to launch a distance-learning program for its students after all school buildings were closed in March due to public health concerns.

The next withdrawal committee meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The meeting will be conducted using the Zoom videoconferencing platform. Information on how to take part is available from the Richmond Town Office.

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