Over 20 Riverhead School District employees have accepted a retirement incentive offer that Superintendent Nancy Carney described as a vital move to maintain current programs next school year.
During the school board’s regular meeting Tuesday night, a handful of audience members listened as Ms. Carney presented her 2013-2014 preliminary spending plan. If the school board were to roll over all existing programs into next year’s budget, she estimates the current $111.8 million spending plan would need to increase by about $6.6 million next year through a tax levy increase of 7.48 percent.
But since that proposed spending plan would need to be reduced by about $2 million in order to comply with the state-mandated tax levy cap, Ms. Carney said a decision was made to offer the retirement incentive.
“We really do feel that we’re at the point where we can’t reduce anymore without a significant effect on students in a negative way,” she said. “The result in savings [from the retirement incentives] will allow for the preservation of all of our programs that are now in place.”
Although each employee that takes the retirement incentive will receive $20,000, Ms. Carney said the move will still save the district over $70,000 per employee that accepts the offer.
One of the district employee who plans to retire at the end of this school year is physical education teacher and Riverhead Central Faculty Association union president Barbara Barosa.
Ms. Barosa, who has worked in the district for the past 26 years and has been the union president for nearly two decades, said after the meeting that she decided to retire in order to spend more time with her husband, who is also retired.
“The stars were aligned and somebody said ‘Maybe you should go, Barbara,’” she said, adding she would like to continue coaching in the fall if possible.
Ms. Barosa said the union will hold an election in May to fill her position.
After Ms. Barosa thanked the school board for coming up with the cost-saving plan to maintain programs and congratulated her colleagues on their retirements during the public comment portion of the meeting, school board president said Ann Cotten-DeGrasse described the retirement incentive agreement as a “pleasant surprise.”
“It did make a big difference to us,” she told Ms. Barosa. “Thank you.”
In addition to the retirement incentive plan, Ms. Carney’s preliminary spending plan also includes a $583,000 expense for an energy performance contract. She said the investment this year on new energy efficient lighting and windows will ultimately produce savings on future energy costs.
The district will also receive a 6.6 percent increase — totaling over $18 million — in state aid if Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget is approved.
Here’s the remaining timeline for this year’s budget process for the Riverhead School District:
• Feb. 26: Presentation on regular day school budget, transportation and facilities
• March 12: Presentation on special education, PPS, guidance and other instructional items
• March 19: Presentation on revenues and projected tax levy
• April 9: Presentation on total tentative budget
• April 23: Deadline for school board to adopt proposed budget
• May 21: Budget vote scheduled from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at local polling locations