Riverhead School District

Riverhead adopts budget of nearly $130.7M; stays within tax levy cap

Riverhead School District

Riverhead School District residents will go to the polls next month to vote on the district’s proposed spending plan, which carries a 0.5 percent increase to next year’s tax levy.

The school board unanimously approved Superintendent Nancy Carney’s $130,669,295 tentative budget Tuesday night after she outlined projected revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year. School board vice president Amelia Lantz was absent.

The district is allowed to raise the tax levy by about $483,930 with approval from a simple majority of voters.

Ms. Carney said she was able to present a budget that stayed under the state-mandated tax levy cap because the district received a 13.9 percent increase in state aid, a hike of nearly $3.3 million over the current school year.

The district also plans to use about $3.3 million from its appropriated fund balance and other reserves to offset next year’s tax levy. In addition, the district is expected to save over $2 million next year through the new retirement incentive, which more than 30 teachers have accepted.

“Between the retirement incentives, using our reserves and additional state aid, we were able to stay within the tax levy cap,” Ms. Carney said.

The adopted spending plan includes hiring several new teachers to accommodate an jump in student enrollment.

While the district’s overall student population has increased by about 9.4 percent in six years, Ms. Carney said the English Language Learning student population has grown by nearly 139.8 percent — from 538 students in 2009-10 to 1,290 students currently. The district has 5,335 students enrolled this year.

The proposed budget includes hiring an English as a New Language director for the high school and middle school and a handful of English as a Second Language teachers, she said. More services for special education students are also needed, she said, because that population has grown by nearly 35 percent in six years, from 775 students to 1,046. Two special education teachers and a part-time speech therapist are included in the budget proposal.

The preliminary spending plan also includes $706,460 for non-instructional salaries, a 7.16 percent increase over the current year. Ms. Carney has said the district needs to hire additional clerical staff to handle the influx of students.

Debt service, which includes construction bonds, bus purchases and the district’s energy performance contract, is projected to rise to $7.38 million next year, a 19.48 percent hike over the current spending plan. The general support budget is expected to increase by 0.31 percent, totaling $3.77 million, the superintendent has said.

Ms. Carney’s next budget presentation is scheduled for a joint meeting of the Flanders, Riverside, Northampton Civic Association and the Bayview Pines Civic Association, which is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 27, at the David W. Crohan Community Center in Flanders.

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Photo: Riverhead School District’s administration office. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)