Several Richmond residents and members of the Regional School Unit 2 community attend the district’s meeting Tuesday night, asking questions about the process if the town decides to withdraw from the school district. Screenshot photo

RICHMOND — The town of Richmond will likely need to pay $68,000 more per year in education expenses if residents decide in November to withdraw from the local school district, officials said.

The comments came Tuesday night as several Richmond residents and members of the Regional School Unit 2 community attended a district board meeting and asked questions about the process. They wanted to know about the pros and cons of Richmond leaving the school district and some residents felt as if they did not know enough about the process, or the committee, to make an informed vote by November.

Martha Witham, the former superintendent of the Richmond schools before they were part of RSU 2, explained the process as simply as she could and how the town would benefit. Based on her budget configurations, she said the town would likely pay $68,000 more a year to be its own district.

Witham is not on the Richmond withdrawal committee but volunteered to help with the formation of the budget and guiding Richmond through the process. She also serves on the Board of Education for the Augusta Public Schools.

“From a professional point, I think it boils down, very simply, that to stay in the RSU, it could save you money and to withdraw from the RSU would give you more say in your child’s education,” Witham said.

Residents of the town will vote in November if they would like to withdraw from RSU 2 — a decision almost two years in the making. November will mark the second election the town has tried to withdraw, with the first vote last June not gathering enough voters to validate the withdrawal process.


The withdrawal process is lengthy and determined by the Department of Education. Before a vote can be had, the education department has to approve the withdrawal agreement, which it did, and both the town and the RSU have to host a public hearing before the vote. Richmond will have its hearing in October.

Richmond’s withdrawal committee includes residents Amanda McDaniel and Michael Wing, and Select Board Member Andrew Alexander, and other resident. Russ Hughes sits on the committee as both a resident of the town and as member of the RSU 2 board of directors.

Witham helped the committee draft a potential budget for the first year of the new Richmond school system, if they effectively withdrew, and said it was increasingly difficult to do because of the certain decisions about positions only school board members can make, such as how much time they would like their superintendent to work and other similar position decisions. Per the withdrawal agreement, Richmond would keep teachers situated in the three Richmond schools.

“(Last year’s) budget is $32.6 million and Richmond pays 21% of that,” Witham explained. “That includes what you see in state subsidy. So you don’t pay the full $6.8 million, because the state pays some of that. If you configure what I based Richmond’s share off of, the difference Richmond would pay (for its own district) is $68,000 more.”

The withdrawal agreement has a draft budget of the new Richmond school system’s first year at $7.52 million.

Richmond resident Tom Nugent wanted to make sure the town knew what “they were getting into” before November’s vote. He said he wished the withdrawal agreement had more input from the town.


“It’s a finished document that says how the withdrawal will work and what we must do and what’s going to happen,” he said. “Underneath it all, knowing Richmond doesn’t know what it’s getting into, besides local control (of the district), we don’t know what it’s going to cost.”

Included in the agreement are divisions of property and a draft budget of what the first potential year of a new Richmond school system.

One attendee wanted to know the pros and cons of leaving the district, but also why residents wanted to withdraw in the first place.

Town Manager Laurisa Loon explained that the committee is a “nonbiased” group tasked with drafting an agreement on behalf of the withdrawal petition started by resident Gary Emmons and signed by members of the town.

“It’s very important the people who signed the petition come to the meetings to answer what you are asking,” Loon said to the resident.

Attending from RSU 2 were newly elected board chair Donna Seppy, board member Jon Hamann and Superintendent Matt Gilbert.

In addition to Richmond, RSU 2 serves Farmingdale, Hallowell, Dresden and Monmouth.

The next public hearing will be hosted by Richmond in October.

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