Final presentation on Riverhead budget tonight, tax levy to be discussed

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Riverhead superintendent Nancy Carney at a recent budget presentation.

The Riverhead Board of Education will hear the superintendent’s final budget presentation Tuesday night to discuss the tax levy and final revenues for the 2012-13 district budget and debt service, according to the meeting agenda.

Superintendent Nancy Carney has said the Riverhead School District will have to cut more than $3.2 million from its budget to come under this year’s state-mandated tax levy cap, which limits the amount of cash the district collects from taxpayers at no more than a 2 percent increase from year to year.

In February, the district cut $1.9 million from next year’s budget after they fired 21 employees, including 12 teachers and nine teaching assistants. Ms. Carney has said no in-school programs will be cut due to the layoffs, but that certain classes will be offered less often. For example, she said, there will be one home and careers teachers in the high school instead of two, meaning there will be less class times offered for students to pick from.

The district also plans to cut the adult education program completely, while extra-curricular activities and sports will also face smaller cuts. She said the budget constraints mean the district will make “slight reductions” of co- and extra-curricular activities at the High School and Middle School, and will eliminate after-school programs at all elementary schools.

Several of the teams, such as the junior and varsity golf teams, will be combined rather than eliminated completely. The cuts to athletic programs and would affect supplies and equipment, and some assistant coaches, Ms. Carney

A previous district proposal would combine the Riverhead Middle School and Pulaski Street School bus runs and combine bus stops to  save an additional $300,000.

None of the district’s arts, music, or language programs will be cut, Ms. Carney said, though each department will now have to work with a smaller budget.

“Our focus was on students,” Ms. Carney said of the cuts. “The board’s goal and priority was really to preserve programs for students so we had to make that difficult decision.”

The school board will also vote to approve a date for the school district vote, as well as the four voting places residents can go to vote.

If approved, the vote will be held on May 15, between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. at the same locations used for last year’s school bond vote. A budget hearing is also planned for May 8 at 7 p.m. in the Riverhead High School auditorium.

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

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