Riverhead School District

Budget for general classroom, teaching expenses up 3.36%

Riverhead school board

The Riverhead School District unveiled the second portion of its 2017-18 budget plan at Tuesday night’s meeting, outlining changes in spending for facilities, security, transportation and curriculum and instruction.

Deputy superintendent Sam Schneider said the biggest changes affect general classroom teaching, instruction and support, which will increase by 3.36 percent over the previous year, for a total of $44.4 million. Part of this increase is due to charter school enrollment, which costs $16,750 for each of an estimated 250 students and will see a 3.53 percent increase.

Budget increases in all other areas are less than 1 percent, with the facilities budget actually expected to decrease by 1 percent next school year, Mr. Schneider said. Significant savings for the district were realized by bringing certain bus routes previously contracted out to BOCES back to in-house drivers, decreasing BOCES transportation spending for next year by 40 percent, to a total of $360,929.

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Lastly, with enrollment steadily growing, the district is looking to add 10.5 positions throughout the schools. These would include 4.5 English as a New Language teachers at the elementary level, a high school math teacher, an elementary reading teacher, a middle school science teacher and an assistant principal at Aquebogue Elementary School. Christine Tona, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said enrollment at Aquebogue has risen from 462 in 2014 to 517, pushing the school past a threshold requiring the extra position.

Budget presentations will also be held March 14 and 28 before the BOE adopts a proposed budget April 19.

Transportation facility

Board member Greg Meyer said work on the transportation facility on Edwards Avenue is underway and ahead of schedule thanks to recent good weather.

Workers began interior flooring and plumbing work Monday afternoon. Exterior and site work is ongoing, Mr. Meyer said. The board is still awaiting a permit for the building and grounds building, the last part of the project, but hopes to hear from the state soon. The goal is to complete the new facility — and demolish the existing bus garage — this summer, before school begins in the fall, he said.

The Board of Education recently approved spending more than $1.1 million from its repair reserve fund for improvements at the future Edwards Avenue facility.

The district’s $5 million repair reserve fund was approved by voters in May 2015.

Board members also approved spending more than $4 million from a separate $10 million capital reserve fund on other work related to the new transportation facility. Also established in May 2015, that fund was designated specifically for the new transportation garage and athletic field improvements.

Superintendent search

The Board of Education announced the next steps in its search for a new superintendent, following Nancy Carney’s retirement announcement. Community members are invited to attend a meeting in Room 133 at Riverhead High School at 7 p.m. Thursday to discuss the characteristics residents want to see in their next superintendent, Mr. Schneider said. A related survey is currently available for residents on the district website.

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Photo: Deputy superintendent Sam Schneider, left, and school board president Sue Koukounas at Tuesday’s meeting. (Credit: Nicole Smith)