RICHMOND — Richmond selectboard members met Monday night to host a public hearing for the citizen’s petition to withdraw from Regional School Unit 2.

The citizens petition was submitted by Richmond resident Gary Emmons. It asks residents if they would like to allocate $25,000 to start the withdrawal process again after the town’s previous attempt failed to gather enough votes to validate the choice to leave the district.

The public hearing, required by state law, took about five minutes during the town’s regular selectboard meeting Monday night. Selectmen asked if there were any questions, but no members of the public were in attendance and Town Manager Laurisa Loon had received no questions submitted in advance of the meeting.

In addition to an advance article in the Kennebec Journal, Loon said information about the public hearing was on the town website and also was included in the Mainely Richmond newsletter.

The next step in the withdrawal process will be a ballot question on the warrant for a Nov. 2 special town meeting: “Do you favor filing a petition for withdrawal with the Board of Directors of Regional School Unit 2 and the Commissioner of Education, authorizing the Withdrawal Committee to expend $25,000 and appropriating $25,000 from unassigned fund balance for this purpose?”

That question is the only item on the warrant for the special town meeting, with voting open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Because the town has already gone through the process, the same withdrawal committee can be chosen, or new members can be selected.

Richmond’s effort to withdraw from RSU 2 fell short last spring after the town spent two years working to try to leave the district.

While an overwhelming margin of voters favored leaving the school district — 434 voted to withdraw, while 98 wanted to remain part of RSU 2 and 18 people left the question blank — the state Department of Education’s requirement for withdrawal is that 50% of the turnout from the previous gubernatorial election take part in the vote.

But only 550 voters turned out, leaving the town far short of the 822 threshold it needed to validate the result.

If the withdrawal process continues, the target for a vote to leave RSU 2 would take place in November 2022, when another race for Maine governor will be on the ballot and could drive turnout past the validation threshold.

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