$78.4 mil bond plan presented to Riverhead school board for first time

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | CPR team member Ron Jager makes a pitch for a $78.4 million bond for capital improvments at Riverhead schools.

Riverhead school board members got their first glimpse Tuesday of the findings of the Community Partnership for Revitalization committee — the group of community members, teachers and administrators tasked with devising a plan for districtwide infrastructure improvements.

The committee members, who have been meeting twice a month since September, presented a $78.4 million plan for capital improvements during the school board meeting at the high school.

The plan, designed by the Patchogue-based BBS Architects and Engineers, calls for new classrooms at every school except for Phillips Avenue, new science labs at the middle and high schools, heating and ventilation upgrades and other improvements.

But board member Tim Griffing Jr. said he was turned off that the plans do not call for new athletic fields or  indoor gym space.

“I see not a dime spent on athletics and I am very disappointed,” he said. “It’s got to be a balance of mind, body and soul.”

The plan does call for improvements to the existing fields, as well as moving the high school wrestling facility to another room.

“One thing we’ve been lacking for many years is indoor gym space,” added school board vice president Greg Meyer.

Superintendent Nancy Carney reminded board members that Tuesday’s presentation was only the team’s suggestion, and that the board has final say over what is presented to the community for a vote.

The board is scheduled to meet again June 7 to further discuss the plan.

Under the plan presented, a taxpayer who lives in Riverhead Town and owns a median-priced home would pay on average $185 extra per year for 20 years.

A Riverhead Town homeowner whose house is valued at $276,000 would pay an extra $39.47 for the 2013-14 school year, the year residents would start paying the bond if it were approved by voters. That amount would increase to $210.48 in 2018, and then gradually decrease over the years.

District officials presented those numbers Thursday night at the high school, during the committee’s latest meeting.

District officials declined to publicly release data for Southampton Town taxpayers because assistant superintendent for operations and finance Joseph Singleton said the equalization rates have not yet been set.

However, Mr. Singleton said Southampton Town residents could call his office to estimate what a $75 million bond would cost them personally over the 20 years.

At the committee’s last meeting in April, district officials presented an $80.2 million plan, though that amount has since been reduced to $78.4 million. Ms. Carney said the district can also use up to $3 million in an emergency repair funds for the project, bringing the total bond to just over $75 million.

“I really, really felt that we needed to get under $80 million,” Ms. Carney said last Thursday.

District taxpayers overwhelmingly voted down a $123 million plan for improvements in February 2010.

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