RICHMOND — The Richmond School Board will move forward through a resolution process to obtain the nearly $800,000 in COVID-era money the district says Regional School Unit 2 owes it in federal reimbursements.

The Richmond School Department argues its former school district, Hallowell-area Regional School Unit 2, owes Richmond 28% of the federal reimbursement that RSU 2 is receiving in return from the Department of Education after spending COVID-era funds.

Bob Webster, interim superintendent of the Richmond School Department, said the next step, per the withdrawal agreement that the department shares with RSU 2, is to solve a dispute with an informal negotiation and mediation process rather than formal legal action.

The board was unanimously in agreement with taking the steps necessary to obtain the money, which is believed to be around $776,000.

“We are taking the position that whatever reimbursement RSU 2 has gotten from 2022 to 2023 to present, Richmond is entitled to 28% of that amount,” Webster said Thursday night. “Because Richmond’s contributions to the RSU 2 budget paid for those (COVID-era purchases).”

The issue was first brought to the attention of the school committee in December 2023 when a Richmond resident shared that under the withdrawal agreement between RSU 2 and the Richmond School Department that splits the old district’s assets, RSU 2 was required to release “Richmond’s qualifying share of any ESSER funds allocated to RSU 2, if any, as of July 1, 2023.”


Richmond withdrew from RSU 2 officially on July 1, 2023, after Richmond residents voted for the withdrawal in November 2022, and thus, they have a withdrawal agreement to follow, similar to a divorce process.

Webster outlined the process to move forward to the School Board at Thursday night’s meeting and said that after giving informal notice to the party, which in this case is RSU 2, there are 30 days to respond and resolve the matter. If that doesn’t happen, then Richmond would send a written notice within 30 days to RSU 2 to initiate a mediation process to be completed within 90 days.

Board member Russ Hughes pointed out that the issue may not get resolved until September if RSU 2 does not respond in the timeframe, which is cutting it close to the deadline for the federal reimbursement at the end of September.

“If the parties are not able to reach agreement with the assistance of the mediator, then each retains all rights and remedies provided by law, including the right to initiate and pursue litigation,” the withdrawal agreement reads.

RSU 2 received $4,793,775 in allocated COVID-era funds and spent all of the designated money before Rick Amero became superintendent in 2023. The Kennebec Journal was unable to get a full list of the coronavirus relief spending from former Superintendent Tonya Arnold in 2021.

The coronavirus funds were awarded across the state and nation during the pandemic to be spent on COVID-related projects or needs. In order to obtain the money, a school district needs to send their expense reports and what they purchased to the Department of Education to receive the reimbursement through the federal grant. To date, RSU 2 has received around 55% of the federal money in reimbursements. In December, when the issue was first brought to the Richmond School Board’s attention, the district received around 28% in reimbursements from the Department of Education. 

Amero said the district has followed the terms of the withdrawal agreement and can’t comment further on the matter as it is now going through the legal process.

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