RICHMOND — After almost six months, Regional School Unit 2 handed over the necessary paperwork to continue the town of Richmond’s process of withdrawing from the school district.

The Richmond Withdrawal Committee received a counteroffer from RSU 2 a couple of weeks ago, but after reviewing it, the town had some revisions of their own.

Though there are no set deadlines in the Department of Education’s formal process of withdrawing from an RSU, Richmond Town Manager Adam Garland grew frustrated with how long it took the school to respond to the town’s initial proposal.

Richmond needed the RSU 2’s counteroffer to the proposed withdrawal agreement to determine the first year budget for a standalone school district. The Maine Department of Education requires that budget and a withdrawal agreement before it will undertake its review of a municipality leaving a school unit.

“We continued to patiently wait,” Garland said, understanding that the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and a new superintendent may have delayed the process. “But we kept waiting and waiting.”

Garland said that despite the delay in receiving the information from RSU 2, Richmond is still on track to be a stand-alone district by 2022, after starting the process in November 2019.

The Richmond Withdrawal Committee made some tweaks to RSU 2’s counteroffer, including to a section regarding Net Monetary Assets. The school district wanted Richmond to pay $415,266 for “capital improvements.”

“The parties also recognize that Richmond contributed $1,220,780 to the cost of projects in the RSU that were not located in Richmond,” the RSU 2 withdrawal agreement proposal stated. “Nonetheless, the members of RSU 2, including Richmond, made a commitment to share the responsibility for this cost as an investment in long-term capital assets that benefited RSU 2 as a whole. A decision by Richmond to withdraw from the RSU will leave the remaining members of RSU 2 without their share of that shared investment, to which they contributed approximately 79% and Richmond contributed approximately 21%.”

Despite that section, Garland said that the Richmond committee thinks that the 31-page document is “very agreeable” and that he “feels good about where we are at.”

Richmond is also responsible for paying any debt it may owe to RSU 2, which is an estimated $242,737.42, according to the document.

The schools that will make up the Richmond School Administrative Unit are Marcia Buker Elementary, and Richmond Middle and High School, per the document. Teachers and students that are already in those schools would stay in them.

Garland said that being a standalone district may help improve the level of education in the Richmond schools, which has received some criticism in the past.

“If we take over the schools,” he said, “the Richmond school board would have a better ability to make sure it’s of better quality because of quality staff.”

Richmond has sent its counterproposal back to RSU 2 for the district’s review, which has only a few changes regarding specifics, minus the Net Monetary Assets section.

If everything looks good, it will be sent to the state education department for review, which could take up to 90 days.

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