Featured Story
04/23/14 10:32am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

The Riverhead School Board unanimously adopted a budget for next year on Tuesday night, opting to use additional state aid that recently came down the pike partly on more teachers next year, and partly to reduce the tax burden.

The proposed budget, a $121.2 million spending plan that proposes a tax levy increase of 2 percent, will require taxpayer approval next month.

Riverhead School District was given about $850,000 more in aid in a final state budget that was adopted last month. At the suggestion of Superintendent Nancy Carney, Riverhead’s tentative budget includes using $368,000 of the additional state aid to reduce the tax levy rate bump, which had previously stood at 2.4 percent. In addition, the district now proposes hiring two new English as a Second Language teachers.

The estimated tax hike is below the state-mandated allowable tax levy rate of 2.4 percent, or $93.8 million, which represents the increased amount the school can collect from property taxes with a simple majority vote.

As for boosting the district’s ESL program, Ms. Carney has said that during the 2005-06 school year, the district had 378 ESL students and 11 ESL teachers. Although the district’s ESL student population swelled to 870 students in 2013-14, the district only had 13 ESL teachers, she said.

School board vice president Greg Meyer had requested at the April 8 meeting that the district look into hiring at least another middle school guidance counselor.

Ms. Carney said during Tuesday’s meeting that funding for the new hire isn’t included in next year’s budget because her office is in the process of securing a grant that will allow the district to employ more guidance counselors.

In addition to voting on the budget, residents will also be asked to vote on two ballot proposition proposals.

The first one is for a $3.98 million bond proposal for bus purchases.

Ms. Carney has said that if the bond is approved, the district will be able to buy about 35 large propane-powered buses, as well as about five handicapped vans, over a five-year span.

Voters authorized a program in 2007 to purchase school buses each year, retiring old vehicles in the process.

However, that five-year program has ended and those funds have been spent.

The school board also approved a second ballot proposition to grant an easement to Long Island Head Start. Ms. Carney has said the district sold a portion of land at Phillips Avenue School in Riverside to Head Start for about $10 in 1994. During recent renovation work at Phillips, Ms. Carney said the county health department discovered the land transfer was “never formalized” and needs to be completed before any final permits are issued for a new sanitary system at the school.

01/24/14 3:00pm
01/24/2014 3:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo presenting his 2014-15 executive budget to the Legislature on Tuesday in Albany.

COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo presenting his 2014-15 executive budget to the Legislature on Tuesday in Albany.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $137.2 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year includes about a 7 percent increase in aid for each of the two school districts in Riverhead Town, according to Mr. Cuomo’s 2014-15 executive budget released last Tuesday. (more…)

01/09/13 10:38am

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | School board president William McGrath (right) said the district could lose nearly half a million dollars in state aid this year because of a union dispute.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district is poised to lose nearly half a million dollars in state aid for the current school year after negotiations over a state-required teacher performance review plan with the administrators union have stalled, school board officials revealed at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Board president William McGrath said state education commissioner John King notified the district on Dec. 28 that unless the performance review plan for teachers and administrators — called an APPR — is approved by Jan. 17, the schools would lose out on state aid increases for the 2012-13 school year totaling $457,000.

Mr. McGrath said contract negotiations with the nine members of the administrators union were holding up the APPR plan’s acceptance.

“The district has continued attempts to bargain as to the APPR as required by law,” Mr. McGrath said at Tuesday’s meeting. “Our efforts in this regard have been thwarted by the administrators association, which has refused to conclude such bargaining without a settlement of a contract negotiation where the association’s demands regarding benefit changes and salary increases have been rejected by the board.”

The cut in state aid would represent roughly 5 percent of the district’s $8.3 million in total state aid for the 2012-13 school year.

If that state aid is lost, the district would have to cover the funds this year, Mr. McGrath added. The cut in state aid would also have an effect on next year’s budget, as a rollover budget would have to change to reflect the decreased state aid total, school officials said.

The district originally submitted the APPR plan on July 1, with only the signatures of the board and the head of the teachers union, after a general counsel for the state education department informed the district it could still have its plan reviewed without signatures from all the bargaining units.

On Dec. 28, Mr. King reversed that policy, stating all APPR plans across the state that would be reviewed needed to have all the proper signatures, Mr. McGrath said.

Mr. McGrath said the board will “continue to act in good faith” and praised the teachers union for its cooperation, but said no deal has been made with the administrators union as of Tuesday.

Stephen Donohue, president of the administrators union and principal of Wading River Elementary School, was unable to be reached for comment first thing Wednesday morning.

School officials said they are unsure what will happen if they miss the Jan. 17 cutoff date. There is no guarantee that state aid lost after that date will be returned should the district and the administrators union later reach an agreement.

psquire@timesreview.com