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Watchdog sworn in as newest Riverhead BOE member

07/07/2016 1:31 PM |

Laurie Downs

Laurie Downs has experienced Riverhead school board meetings from several vantage points.

Over the years, the Riverhead resident has addressed the Board of Education as a former president of the Riverhead High School Parent-Teacher Organization. She has also volunteered to videotape school board meetings for nearly 15 years.

But on Tuesday, Ms. Downs wasn’t behind the podium or a camera. Instead, the longtime school board watchdog experienced the meeting for the first time at the dais after she was sworn in to serve a three-year term on the Board of Education.

“I’m looking forward to making this more transparent and open,” Ms. Downs said in an interview, adding that she was pleased with how her first meeting went. “Not being transparent brings up red flags.”

During the meeting, Ms. Downs asked the board to include the salaries of district employees on the public versions of the agenda. Currently, salaries are only listed on board members’ versions, she said.

“Salaries are public information,” Ms. Downs said. “I would like to see them put on the public end of the agenda, please. There’s no reason why they can’t be on there.”

Sue Koukounas, who was reappointed school board president Tuesday, said that while it isn’t the district’s policy to include salaries on the public agenda, the district’s administrators will look into including the information in the future.

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Photo: District clerk Barbara O’Kula swears in Laurie Downs (right) as the Riverhead school board’s newest member Tuesday. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

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