Riverhead School District

Riverhead School District wants to improve cafeterias

The Riverhead Central School District wants to update the cafeteria at the Phillips Avenue Elementary School next year by adding a walk-in freezer.

“More meals are served at Phillips Avenue Elementary School than any other building in our district, including here at the high school,” deputy superintendent Sam Schneider said at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting. “It has the smallest amount of storage. They are desperate for additional storage.”

Additionally, the district is looking to install larger sinks at Phillips, Riley and Aquebogue elementary schools to accommodate standard baking pans and comply with county health codes.

“County health codes require that a cooking pan be fully submersible in the sink for cleaning,” Mr. Schneider said. “The sinks in Phillips, Riley and Aquebogue do not fit the standard size cooking pan. As a result, they have to use smaller cooking pans, which greatly slows down the rate of production.”

In a proposition that will be presented to voters during the May 15 budget vote, the district is asking for approval to spend $154,500 from the cafeteria fund for the freezer and sink upgrades, Mr. Schneider said. Money in the cafeteria fund is generated through the cafeteria program itself and does not come from the taxpayers, he said.

The district will also present voters with another proposition, one that would establish a cafeteria capital reserve fund. It would not exceed $4 million and would last for 20 years, Mr. Schneider said.

Funds for the reserve would also be generated solely from cafeterias and not from the taxpayers. Voters would be asked to approve specific expenditures from the reserve fund over the years, as they are for taxpayer-funded capital reserve fund projects.

Mr. Schneider concluded a three-part budget presentation by detailing costs in areas, such as guidance, technology, extracurriculars and special education.

Increased costs in these areas result from increased health insurance and retirement payments, higher enrollment at the Riverhead Charter School, a greater need for BOCES and private provider services and the addition of a new bilingual guidance counselor.

Overall, the tentative budget is anticipated to be just over $138,700,000. But last-minute changes, such as the amount of state aid the district receives and the number of employees who accept a retirement incentive offered by the district, will change that number, Mr. Schneider said.

The district currently expects around $30 million in state aid based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recommendation, but hopes the legislation will increase that number. State aid announcements are expected around April 1, he said.

The school board is expected to adopt the proposed budget at its next meeting on April 18. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for May 8.

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