Riverhead BOE: 2012-13 budget presentations continue tonight

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE | The school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Riverhead High School.

The Riverhead school board will discuss administrative and classroom costs for next year’s budget at its meeting Wednesday night, according to the meeting agenda.

Board members will hear another in a series of presentations on the proposed 2012-13 budget, which is capped at a two percent overall tax levy increase due to state law. Superintendent Nancy Carney will share information about administrative costs, data and testing costs for state exams, and general classroom costs which include teachers, teaching assistants, curriculum, textbooks and supplies.

The regular meeting, which was rescheduled so parents could attend Tuesday night’s Riverhead girl’s basketball championship game, is open to the public.

Ms. Carney has said the school district will have to cut an estimated $3.2 million from its budget to come under this year’s cap. Earlier this month, 12 Riverhead teachers and nine teaching assistants were cut.

“What is perhaps most upsetting to me is that none of these people are being laid off for cause,” Ms. Carney said at the time. “They are each excellent employees who contribute to the education of our students.”

The superintendent said the faculty cuts would lead to bigger class sizes, adding that while the district did not want to increase class size, “with the provisions of the new tax cap levy law, larger class sizes are an unfortunate reality.”

The district has also proposed combining the Riverhead Middle School and Pulaski Street School school bus runs, a move later criticized by school bus drivers who cautioned the board about potential safety concerns for children on the buses.

The two percent tax cap, made law in New York State in 2011, could be pierced with approval from a 60 percent supermajority of district voters, though Ms. Carney has stated the district will not go that route. Capital improvements, such as the voter-approved $78.3 million school bond for infrastructure upgrades, are exempt from the tax-levy cap.

The school board will also vote Wednesday on approving about $70,000 in contract changes for kitchen replacements at district schools. Funds for the renovations are coming out of the capital reserve, a $10 million fund approved by residents in 2006.

“These change orders are being made to allow us to finish the work to the level we wish to achieve” Ms. Carney said this week.

The meeting will include time for the public to speak about next year’s budget, and will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Riverhead High School auditorium.

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