RICHMOND — Voters will soon be tasked with choosing five representatives to serve on the first school board for the new Richmond School District.

This week, residents will have a chance to hear from the candidates during a forum at the Enterprise Grange ahead of the March 7 special election.

Residents overwhelmingly supported leaving Regional School Unit 2 in a November vote and since then, the Richmond transition committee has worked to get documents and existing policies organized for the school board to take over in March once its members are elected.

The board’s initial five members will be elected to terms of varying lengths. Six candidates are running. The races for three-year and one-year terms are contested, but only one candidate has entered the race for a two-year term, and the winner of a second two-year seat will be decided by write-in vote.

Three candidates currently represent Richmond on the RSU 2 school board — Liana Knight, Russ Hughes and Amanda McDaniel — and will remain on the RSU 2 school board until June 30 when the fiscal year ends.

The Richmond School District will officially begin operating on July 1, but the school board will meet soon after its members are elected in March to create a budget and hire central office staff and a superintendent.


McDaniel is vying against Robert Allen and Nicole Tuttle in a race for two three-year seats; Hughes is running against Mary Webster for a one-year seat; and Knight is running unopposed for a two-year seat. One additional two-year seat is vacant.

The Meet the Candidates night at the grange will take place on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.


When Robert Allen was previously on the school board for Maine School Administrative District 52, he said he regularly visited the schools in the Leeds and Turner area and made it a point to check out the schools’ operations to see how those in the school were doing.

“Getting a hands-on approach, meeting and talking to people, I think it’s essential to the whole dynamic to get a good sense of how people feel,” Allen said. “It’s a difficult job with difficult choices, and it’s important all stakeholders of staff, administration and the public are heard.”

Allen served on the MSAD 52 board for 10 years before he moved to Richmond in 2018 with his wife. He has five children — aged 24, 21, 16, 13 and 2. His oldest two children are in the Army and Marines, respectively, and his middle two teenagers are at Richmond Middle and High School.


Though he is newer to Richmond compared to the other candidates, he is aware of the “complexities” in the area as his wife is a seventh-generation Richmond resident. He said he understands that education is “crucial to our kids.”

Being a part of a single-town district is “unique” he said, and will allow Richmond to focus on what’s important.

“There are so many opportunities and goals that can be set, but it comes down to the mission and vision and who we are,” he said. “Our identity, who we want to be, and a school district that we can be proud of where children can look back in 12 years and say it’s something they are proud of.”

Amanda McDaniel, meanwhile, hopes that through her experience on the RSU 2 board of directors, she can demonstrate for her three children the importance of giving back to the community.

McDaniel, her husband and their three children, who are in third, fifth and sixth grades, moved to Richmond right before the pandemic in 2020 and said they were drawn to the “Norman Rockwell picturesqueness” and the walkable nature of the town.

She joined the RSU 2 board in November when former director Jay Brown stepped down, and since then, she has taken the reins on both the Richmond withdrawal and transition committees.


McDaniel said she believes the town will be able to create more opportunities for Richmond students as the board will have more local control by being only in charge of decisions pertaining to Richmond.

“If I want to show up at a table for hours at a time, away from my work and away from my family, I really want to make a difference and would like better opportunities for the children with exposure to the world around them, to the working world with field trips and the arts and culture and that’s easier to make available with a smaller table,” she said.

In the new district, she wants Richmond to “focus on the basics” of what has been lost in terms of reading and math skills. She would like the district to move away from the proficiency-based 1-4 grading scale RSU 2 uses and return to a scale that is easier for parents to understand how their children are doing.

“The proficiency-based grading gives one picture but the national-based test scores give such a varied response,” she said. “There isn’t a clear picture as a parent for me to tell where my child is at. We need more standards and assistance for those that need it and opportunity for those above it.”

A lifelong Richmond resident, Nicole Tuttle wants the small town to be a place where families can move to and not be deterred by the school district.

“I think the separation from RSU 2 is going to be a difficult change, and I think that people need to be on the board who care about the town,” Tuttle said. “I grew up here and am raising a family here, and education is important to the both of us.”


Tuttle moved back to Richmond after spending a few years out in Colorado and chose the town as a place where she wants to start her family with her wife and 9-month-old son.

She said it’s been “really fun watching the town grow” with younger families and that she is eager for the time when her son can start school with the other young children in the neighborhood.

Though Tuttle does not have elected experience on a school board, she has goals in mind for the district that include keeping a balanced budget and maintaining the teachers that the district has to make the education offered as strong as it can be.

“On teacher retention, I see a lot of turnover and people leaving and new teachers coming in,” she said. “I think it’s hard to get a good education if you have a different teacher mid-season. And also, trying to keep everyone who works in the school treated fairly and well.”


Russ Hughes said that “good schools are the lifeblood of the town.


“They attract new residents, help keep property values high and add an air of excitement to our small town,” he said.

Hughes has lived in Richmond since 1988 and put his four children through the Richmond schools.

He has represented Richmond on the RSU 2 board of directors since 2015 and long championed the town’s withdrawal from RSU 2. He originally decided to run for the board because he felt the town’s school district was underserving the students in the area and he wanted to do something about it.

“I believe we have been held back by our membership in RSU 2, where the changes we need and wanted were often vetoed by other towns with different priorities,” he said.

Like McDaniel, Hughes wants to move away from the proficiency-based grading scale and return back to a traditional A through F grading scale. Additionally, he wants to look into the possibility of constructing a new middle and high school.

With her last daughter off to college, Mary Webster decided to use some of her free time to do something new — run for school board.


She moved to Richmond with her husband about a year and a half ago and took a part-time job working at the Isaac F. Umberhine Public Library on Main Street. Together, they have four daughters, a 28-year-old, 23-year-old twins and a 17-year-old.

As a former teacher, she said her experience in the field and knowledge of the the education system will help with her role on the school board. Webster has never run for an elected position before but has experience teaching elementary, middle and high school.

“I haven’t been here long (in Richmond), but the people working at the schools, I want them to feel like their voices are heard,” Webster said. She also said she wants to help support teachers and education technicians in the classroom. “They are all-important, working with the kids, and I feel like they are the ones who can tell us what needs to be done or improved.”

Through working at the library, she has been able to meet some of the teachers and people in town.

She emphasized the importance of balancing the budget of the new school district and listening to those involved when making informed decisions.

“There are going to be hard decisions to make and the school budget will be tight, but I believe we can have an excellent education system on a tight budget and with great people in Richmond,” she said.


Stability and transparency are what Liana Knight thinks are key as Richmond moves away from RSU 2 and starts its own district.

By stability, Knight said she means that as a district, Richmond has to find what works for them and go at their own pace as the district charts a new path.

“As we move forward, we have to find as much stability as our own district and how we want to go about that,” Knight said. “I think stability and transparency are a big thing and having the people in town and parents and everyone know what is going on will be really important.”

Since being elected to RSU 2’s school board around eight months ago, Knight has served on the policy committee and the teaching and learning committee. She was appointed by the town to serve on the Richmond transition committee.

Knight has lived in Richmond for 12 years, is married and has two daughters aged 8 and 10 who attend Marcia Buker Elementary School. She has regularly hosted a high school-aged exchange student through Green Heart Exchange.

“It’s going to be a huge amount of work to get the district up and running and independent, but it feels like a great thing to do to navigate the different decisions and the various pieces. It feels important and (is) a great thing to be invoked in,” she said. “I want the schools to be the best they can be.”

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