Riverhead School District’s debt service up; bus barn location identified

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02/12/2014 8:00 AM |
Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney, standing, gave a budget presentation Tuesday night. (Photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney, standing, gave a budget presentation Tuesday night. (Photo by Jennifer Gustavson)

The Riverhead School District’s first debt service payment for the 2011 voter-approved capital improvement bond is due next fiscal year and is expected to increase the 2014-15 budget by about $2.8 million, Superintendent Nancy Carney said Tuesday night.

During the school board’s regular meeting Tuesday night, Ms. Carney gave a presentation about next year’s proposed spending plan and discussed estimated costs for general support, benefits and debt service.

The significant increase to the budget’s debt service next school year is because the first principal and interest payment for the $78.3 million capital improvement bond project is due, Ms. Carney said.

The nearly $6.34 million total cost in next year’s debt is an increase of nearly 72.5 percent compared to the current school year and includes payments for other construction bonds, bus purchases and the energy performance contract, she added.

Another large expenditure projected for the 2014-15 school year is an additional $600,000 in tuition cost to pay for Riverhead Charter School students. In March, the charter school received approval to expand its K-6 program through eighth grade.

Ms. Carney said the “good news” about next year’s spending plan is the anticipation of additional state aid.

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo released his proposed budget that included a total of about $21.37 million in state aid for Riverhead, a nearly 6.92 percent increase compared to the current school year.

“With this additional state aid, the good news is we are able to maintain all of our existing programs,” she said. “We are operating at a bare minimum and we’re happy to move forward without making additional cuts at this point.”

NEW BUS GARAGE LOCATION IDENTIFIED

The current bus ban in Riverhead. (Barbaraellen Koch file photo)

The current bus ban in Riverhead. (Barbaraellen Koch file photo)

The school board also unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night to possibly relocate the district’s bus barn to Calverton.

The maintenance and storage facility, currently located between district athletic fields on Osborn Avenue in Riverhead, was built in 1920 to house horses and has fallen into despair, school officials have said.

VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture was awarded a $22,500 contract Tuesday night to conduct a traffic survey and environmental study of a 6-to-8 acre lot located near the intersection of Edwards Avenue and Route 25 in Calverton.

Ms. Carney said the location is attractive because a hauling company currently operates there and would be a cost-effective purchase for the district because the property includes an existing garage facility.

Local resident and school board watchdog Laurie Downs said during the public comment portion of the meeting that she believes the district should reconsider moving the transportation facility to that location because she said it has been deemed a “dangerous intersection.”

“There are many, many traffic studies that have been done on that intersection,” she said. “It’s cited as being one of our worst corners and intersections in the town. It’s a really bad.”

Ms. Carney said after the meeting that although the newly created bus garage committee has looked at several properties, the Calverton one is the first location it has identified as a strong consideration.

In May, residents voted down a proposition that would have allowed the district to relocate the bus garage near Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside.

SPRING BREAK SHORTENED 

The school board also unanimously approved adjusting the district’s current calendar as a result of having to use excessive snow days.

So far, the district has used three snow days this school year, Ms. Carney said, and the current calendar only had two snow days built into it.

School recess currently scheduled for April 14 has now been converted to a regular school day.

If another snow day is needed, then April 15 will also be converted to a regular school day and school will be opened April 16 if a third snow day is required, the superintendent said.

jennifer@timesreview.com