RICHMOND — Residents will soon be asked to vote on whether to allocate $194,215 of the town’s undesignated funds to the Richmond School Department for its startup costs. 

It is one of the final logistical hurdles the new municipal school district must clear to hire key administrators before July 1, when its inaugural budget takes effect.

The Richmond Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the $194,215 request in a 4-0 vote Monday. The use of undesignated funds, however, requires additional approval by residents either at the annual Town Meeting or through a referendum.

Richmond’s Town Meeting is typically held in June. The school district says it needs funding before then, however, so voters are expected to weigh in at a special election to be held in about two weeks.

Town Manager Laurisa Loon said the tentative date for the special election is April 4, but the town is waiting for approval from Regional School Unit 2 to use Richmond Middle and High School at 132 Main St. as a polling place.

Robert Bodge, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he “understands the need for the startup money,” and suggested the school district replenish the money over time. The select board decided to give the district a 10-year period to pay back the $194,215.


Bob Webster, the school district’s interim superintendent, spoke on the proposal for the seed money that would go towards compensating and providing benefits through the end of June for five potential central office workers, and would enable the district to buy software needed for its finances. The positions include an IT director, business manager, special education director, administrative assistant and Webster’s role.

They would be paid at a per diem rate, like Webster, whom the town is paying $500 a day.

The goal is to fill the positions before July 1, but if the positions are not filled, the money would go back to the town. After July 1, the money would come from the budget that the school committee and Webster are now developing.

“I think one of the things mentioned is if we can’t find anyone, we obviously won’t need the money,” said Jack Turcotte, a consultant advising the school board. “So, depending on the hiring date and the salary, they are all negotiable, so it’s all a guess.

“I’m not going to say differently on what it might cost, but if it doesn’t get spent, it’s going back to the town. This isn’t an opportunity for a blank check to be given to the schools.” 

July 1 is the start of the fiscal year and the date when the Richmond School Department officially becomes separate from RSU 2. Since departments such as special education and the finance office continue to run in the summer, officials said the positions need be filled ahead of July 1 to make sure the transition is smooth. 


Webster said he has begun creating job descriptions and posting the positions. 

School Committee Chair Amanda McDaniel spoke to the selectmen about the importance of getting the money and filling the positions. McDaniel and the four other school committee members attended Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

McDaniel said the amount of money requested for the central office positions is an “educated guess.”

“If we don’t have it in place,” she said, “a kid will be there waiting for a bus that doesn’t come and a special education director that doesn’t show up.”

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.