As Richmond’s Regional School Unit 2 Withdrawal Committee works with school district officials to gather information they need to craft a withdrawal agreement, they have another task to complete.

Along with a negotiated withdrawal agreement splitting the district’s assets and liabilities between Richmond and RSU 2, the withdrawal committee must also submit a budget for the standalone district’s first year to the Department of Education.

“As it stands right now, we’re waiting for some more information from the district,” Richmond Town Manager Adam Garland said Thursday.

Members of the withdrawal committee met with RSU 2 administrators and board members Wednesday, to review the agreement and compile a list of what information is still needed before the sides meet again.

In the meantime, Garland said, the withdrawal committee is expected to meet in a workshop early next week to review that information, which is also needed to draft a proposed budget.

Earlier in this process, O’Neil LaPlante, chairman of both the withdrawal committee and the Richmond Board of Selectmen, has discussed finding a consultant to complete that work, but that hasn’t been possible.

“No one is available until after June 30,” Garland said.

That means the work falls to the members of the committee.

The projected budget is one of the factors that Richmond voters will consider when the withdrawal comes to a referendum vote.

A year ago, voters in the district — which encompasses Richmond, Dresden, Farmingdale, Hallowell and Monmouth — approved a budget totaling $30.56 million. Of that, a little more than half was the responsibility of taxpayers in the district.

Richmond’s tax obligation was $3.35 million.

The district is expected to hold a virtual public hearing on its proposed budget on Tuesday.

LaPlante said if the district asks for a 10% increase, the proposed budget would be $33 million. With Richmond’s cost share at 21%, its standalone budget might be about $6.9 million.

With an enrollment of about 460 students, LaPlante said it should be feasible to develop a budget for about $6.9 million.

“Probably less, but I can’t say for sure,” he said.

While the school district pays for a superintendent and principals at the Richmond Middle & High School and the Marcia Buker School, LaPlante said not all of those positions might exist in the new budget.

June 30 is a significant date because that’s still the deadline the withdrawal committee is working toward.

State law dictates the steps, procedures and deadlines that must be followed when a municipality considers leaving a school district.

In this instance, a July 1, 2021, exit from the district can happen only if voters agree to it at an election in November. And to get on the November ballot, the completed withdrawal agreement including a proposed first-year budget must be in the hands of the state Department of Education by June 30, which is now less than two weeks away.

If that deadline can’t be met, the next possible exit date would be July 1, 2022.

“We’re going to try to get it done by June 30 as is the RSU 2 board,” LaPlante said.

If either side rushes into an agreement, he said, mistakes could be made with economic or academic consequences.

“If it happens, fine,” LaPlante said. “If it doesn’t, we go to Plan B.”

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