Riverhead School Board to discuss charter school application

COURTESY PHOTO | Jerry and Fern Hill at the ranch named in honor of their son. The Timothy Hill Children's Ranch submitted an application to build a charter school within the Riverhead school district.

The Riverhead school board will hold a public hearing at its meeting Tuesday night to discuss an application from a local non-profit to establish a charter school for troubled youths within the district, according to the meeting’s agenda.

Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch, a home for abused or neglected boys located on Middle Road, submitted an application last month to build a charter school on its property.

The proposed Timothy Hill Community Charter School would teach students from grades 7 through 12 and would open for the Fall 2013 school year, according to the school’s application.

The charter school would have an initial charter term run from the 2013-14 to 2017-18 school years, and would max out at 210 students. Students will be selected by lottery to enter the school if it is approved.

“The Mission of the Timothy Hill Community Charter School is to ensure that THCCS students have the opportunity for further success in the college of their choice and/or a viable career choice,” the group said in their application. “Strategic focus on the development of social, behavioral, and organizational skills will maximize students’ academic potential and prepare them as life- long achievers.”

Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch was founded 30 years ago on their current 70-acre ranch, and is licensed by the state as a “safe haven” for troubled kids, according to the group’s website.

The district will also review the superintendent’s proposed 2012-13 school year budget and make any revisions to the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting.

Superintendent Nancy Carney has proposed a budget for next year, which trims $3.2 million from the budget to keep the district under the state-mandated 1.73 percent tax levy increase.

A state law passed last year limits increases in the tax levy, the amount of money the district can collect from taxpayers, at 2 percent from year-to-year, but other variables keep Riverhead’s cap at the lower 1.73 percent increase.

“[The state] considers the growth of the town flat,” Ms. Carney said at a March school board meeting. “There are exemptions that can bring the cap up or down. You have many school districts out there whose levy is allowable under the cap to be 3 percent, 4 percent.”

In February, the district cut $1.9 million from next year’s budget by issuing layoff notices to 21 employees, including 12 teachers and nine teaching assistants.

No in-school programs will be cut due to the layoffs, Ms. Carney said, but some classes will be offered less often and each department will now have to work with a smaller budget.

The adult education program would be cut completely, while extra-curricular activities and sports would also face smaller cuts to equipment and coaches.

All after-school programs at district elementary schools would be eliminated and several sports teams would be combined rather than eliminated completely.

Ms. Carney has also proposed to combine the Riverhead Middle School and Pulaski Street School bus runs and as well as district bus stops to save an additional $300,000.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Riverhead High School cafeteria.

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