Riverhead, SWR school budgets both approved

05/15/2018 9:00 PM |

Voters in the Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved their budgets.

In the Riverhead Central School District, the $140,380,950 budget was approved 1,581 to 862. The budget carries with it a 0.91 percent tax levy increase.

Two propositions were also approved by Riverhead voters. The first, which passed 1,806 to 623, allows the district to use food service funds to purchase a walk-in freezer at Phillips Avenue Elementary as well as larger sinks at Phillips, Riley and Aquebogue elementary schools. The other, which was approved 1,654 to 772, establishes a cafeteria capital reserve of up to $4 million.

Seven candidates vied for three open seats on the school board. The top three vote-getters were: Susan Koukounas, with 1,237 votes; Brian Connelly, 1,133 votes; and Elizabeth Silva, 933 votes.

Ms. Silva is serving the remainder of a term left vacant by a resignation until June 2019. She was sworn in Wednesday.

“Oh my gosh I don’t even know what to say,” Ms. Silva said after the vote. “All I can say is wow. I have a lot of work ahead of me. But it’ll be a really great team to work with and I’m really looking forward to working with our superintendent and I think that’s the most exciting part.”

Ms. Koukounas, who is also filling a seat left vacant by a resignation and was also sworn in Wednesday, will serve a full three-year term. Mr. Connelly will serve a full three-year term beginning July 1.

“It’s an honor to serve the community as a board member for the next three years,” said Ms. Koukounas, who has served on the board for six years and is currently vice president. “I’m very appreciative of everybody’s support. Knowing what kind of work that I bring to the board and coming out and voting for us is very humbling.”

Mr. Connelly, a newcomer to the board, is a New York City firefighter and has two daughters in the school district.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” he said. “I wasn’t surprised, we put the work in. I look forward to hitting the ground running.”

Ron Fisher, who was appointed to the board last summer following two resignations, finished fifth in the voting. Amelia Lantz, who resigned last June and whose seat Ms. Silva is filling, finished fourth.

Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez hailed the vote approving the budget.

“I’m very excited that the community came and supported our budget. It was great,” she said.

Voters in the Shoreham-Wading River district passed the $74,776,072 budget with a 77.2 percent approval rate — 790 to 233. The tax levy will decrease 0.5034 percent.

There were two open seats on the board and the winners were Robert Rose, with 772 votes, and James Smith, with 767 votes.

“I’m really happy with the budget that the school district put together this year and with our leadership internally,” said Mr. Smith. He added, “One of the things that I want to focus on in my candidacy is on mental health.”

Mr. Rose was elected to his third term on the board.

“I look forward to helping the district and helping the superintendent continue to build programs and work with the staff and get kids college- and career-ready,” he said. “The budget passing by so much says a lot about the superintendent and teachers and all the work they’ve put in to put together a good budget with the Board of Education.”

Superintendent Gerard Poole said he thought the approval rate for this budget was a record. “It’s the highest percentage in a while,” he said. “It’s another sign for the support of the community for the school district. It means we can keep our great programs and put the enhancements in place to achieve great outcomes.”

See the full budget vote break down below:

Riverhead Central School District

BUDGET APPROVED

Yes: 1,581
No: 862

Proposed Budget: $140,380,950
Estimated tax levy increase: 0.91 percent

Proposition two:
(Permit the district to use food services funds to purchase a walk-in freezer at Phillips Avenue Elementary)

Yes: 1,806
No: 623

Proposition three:
(Establish a cafeteria capital reserve of up to $4 million)

Yes: 1,654
No: 772

School Board Election Results (Three open seats, seven candidates):

  • Susan Koukounas: 1,237
    Brian Connelly: 1,133
    Elizabeth Silva: 933
    Amelia Lantz: 884
    Ronald Fisher: 867
    Joshua Berezny: 563
    Gregory-John Fischer: 498

Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez: “I’m very excited that the community came and supported our budget. It was great.”

Photo caption: The winning school board candidates: Brian Connelly, Susan Koukounas and Elizabeth Silva. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

James Smith, left, and Robert Rose. (Credit: Rachel Siford)

Shoreham-Wading River School District

BUDGET APPROVED
Yes: 790
No: 233
(77.2 percent approval)

Proposed budget: $74,776,072

Estimated tax levy decrease: 0.5034 percent

Two open seats, two candidates: Robert Rose, with 772 votes, and James Smith with 767 are the winners. 

“I am really happy with the budget that the school district put together this year and with our leadership internally,” said Mr. Smith after the vote. “They did a really good job of putting together a fiscally responsible budget all at the same time maintaining increasing programs for the students.

“I hope they continue that trend and the wheels are in motion,” he added. “One of the things that I want to focus on in my candidacy is on mental health.”

Mr. Rose was elected to his third term on the board.

“I look forward to helping the district and helping the superintendent continue to build programs and work with the staff and get kids college and career ready,” he said. “The budget passing by so much says a lot about the superintendent and teachers and all the work they’ve put in to put together a good budget with the Board of Education.”

Superintendent Gerard Poole: “It passed 77.2 percent which I believe is a record passing percentage at least over the past 13 years. It’s the highest passing percentage in a while. It’s another sign for the support of the community for the school district. “It means we can keep are great programs and put the enhancements in place to achieve great outcomes.”

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