RICHMOND — The Richmond School Committee voted at its first meeting Wednesday to ask the town for $194,000 to cover the cost of filling essential school district positions before July 1.

Officials said the money is needed to ensure a smooth transition during the town’s separation from Regional School Unit 2. 

Residents voted Tuesday, the day before the first committee meeting, to allocate $40,000 in town funds toward startup costs for the district.

Officials on the town’s transition committee realized in February that amount would not be enough to hire the positions needed. At that point, however, it was too late to change the ballots and ask for more.

“Things just don’t start on July 1,” consultant Jack Turcott told the newly elected five-member school committee Wednesday. “Time — you didn’t have and still don’t have enough of — and money, you don’t have enough of either.” 

The School Committee plans to hire an interim superintendent Friday. That person is then expected to take on the task of hiring a business manager, transportation director, a food director, an IT director and other staff members. The committee can give feedback on the candidates, but the superintendent will have authority to make final hiring decisions.


The district also has to invest in financial software.  

Committee member John Pratt said he was worried about voting on the large sum of money before he saw a budget for the school department. Other committee members who were not part of the transition committee said they were surprised to hear more money would be needed before July 1, other than the $40,000 approved the day before. 

“Down the road, will there be another tax increase?” Pratt asked.

Turcott reminded Pratt the $194,000 is separate from the budget for the first school year, which begins July 1. The School Committee has yet to create the budget.

“This is very difficult, but you can’t do what you want without the money. So, if you feel a little trapped, I understand that,” Turcott said. “I am not requesting the money. I’m sort of indicating to you that I don’t know how you will get started without it.” 

To allocate the $194,000, the School Committee voted unanimously to ask the Selectboard for the funds March 20. Town Manager Laurisa Loon attended the committee meeting and said the money would come from the town’s undesignated funds, and what is not spent — if a position were not filled, for example — would go back to the town. 


Board Chair Amanda McDaniel and Turcott said they might not be able to fill certain positions before July. If someone is hired after July 1, his or her pay would come from the school district’s budget, not the town’s. 

Hiring a school superintendent can take about three months, officials said, and many superintendents are hired near or in January.

RSU 2 ended its search for a superintendent last week after three months and hired Rick Amero, who had been serving as interim superintendent.

McDaniel said it is important the School Committee fill the positions before July 1 to ensure services are running for students.

“It’s not ideal, but it’s important we get every single dollar,” McDaniel said. “Jack (Turcott) worked hard on this, and we have seen draft after draft (of the positions needed).

“If we don’t get this done, there will be a kid standing waiting for a bus that doesn’t come, food that will be lacking, programs missing and people won’t get paid.”


The School Committee also voted Wednesday to sign up for liability, unemployment and workers’ compensation insurance though the Maine School Management System, which Turcott described as “terribly important.” 

Turcott advised that the School Committee hire an interim superintendent at Friday night’s meeting, and begin the process of choosing subcommittees.

Committee members also must begin work on the school budget and policies for the committee and schools.

Friday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Town Hall at 26 Gardiner St. and be streamed online.

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