Riverhead school board lays off 24; bond pitch set for next meeting

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | The Riverhead school board voted to abolish 39 position and lay of 24 employees during its meeting Tuesday.

The Riverhead school board voted Tuesday night to abolish 39 positions due to spending cuts in its proposed 2011-12 school year budget, a move that resulted in 24 people losing their jobs.

The board was solemn in the high school auditorium as it voted 6-0 in favor of excessing the positions and terminating two dozen employees during its bi-monthly meeting. Board president Ann Cotten-Degrasse was absent.

No members of the public spoke out on the matter.

Riverhead Superintendent Nancy Carney has said some open positions will not be filled next year, as employees chose to retire after this school year. Abolishing those positions is needed to keep taxes down as Albany is cutting about $2.3 million in state aid to Riverhead in 2011-12, district officials have said.

The school board adopted a $109.6 million spending plan for the 2011-12 school year in April. It’s a budget district officials say carries the lowest year-to-year spending increase in recent years. The budget calls for a 1.26 increase from this school year, yet would raise the tax levy by just under 5 percent, or $4.6 million, due mostly to a $2.6 million reduction in state aid.

School officials have said spending under a contingency budget, which is what the district would likely adopt if the public rejected the proposed spending plan, would be roughly the same.

“The budget would be virtually the same as the one we are proposing,” Ms. Carney said Tuesday night.

The public will vote on the budget and the four school board candidates seeking three at-large seats on Tuesday, May 17.

Two members of the public took to the podium during Tuesday’s meeting to urge officials to seek reform in state mandates, including how much the district is required to pay toward employee health benefits and retirement funds.

“I recently met a woman, a 95-year-old who retired [from teaching] at 55,” said Pamela Hogref of Riverhead, adding that the woman had been collecting a pension for all those years. “I cannot pay that woman to do nothing. There has to be reform here.”

Ms. Carney said she too would like to see mandate relief in the future.

“We’re very aware of the difficult financial situation,” she said.

Meanwhile, the district’s Community Partnership for Revitalization committee is planning to make a formal recommendation to the school board for a multi-million dollar capital improvement plan during the board’s May 24 meeting. The public overwhelmingly rejected a $123 million plan for improvements in February 2010.

Ms. Carney encouraged members of the public to attend this month’s meeting.

The list of those who will lose their jobs next year is as follows:

Teaching Assistants

Alissa Behr, Amanda Bendick and Laura Sauter.


Assistant director for special education Paul Hewitt and director of science Suzanne Hulme.


Art teacher Shannon McCafferty; elementary teachers Donna Elmore, Cara Koenig and Kelly Lester; guidance counselor Christine Morris; health teacher Rebecca Winkel; math teacher Frank Amitrano and reading teacher Maureen Hollett.

Teacher Aides

Denise Giles, Kerri Miller, Jerecua Nelson, Susan Schulz, Kathleen Timpone and neighborhood aide Hassan Olowu.

Security Guards

Willie Austin, Corey Bazemore, Timothy Crump, Marilyn Ross and Antonia Turner.

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