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Riverhead schools hosting rally for additional state aid

Nearly three months after requesting community support to receive more state funding, the Riverhead Central School District is hosting a rally to advocate for additional Foundation Aid.

Community members, administrators, teachers and local government officials are invited to attend a rally at Riverhead Middle School Saturday, Jan. 18, at noon.

Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez said in a press release that the district is in “dire need of funding” to address the growing necessities of Riverhead students.

“It is our hope that this rally will get our voices heard at the state level,” she said.

Riverhead, Glen Cove City School District, Port Chester-Rye Union Free School District, Ossining Union Free School District and Westbury School District are part of a coalition called the “Harmed Suburban Five” that have received the lowest percentage of state aid. The coalition is fighting for additional funds due to financial difficulties as a result of rising student enrollment and poverty rates. The January rally is part of that effort.

In an October 2019 statement posted on the district website, Dr. Henriquez said the aid gap in these districts will continue to grow as student needs and enrollments increase. 

The average school district in the state receives approximately 80% of their allocated aid based on a formula. However, Riverhead receives less than 50% of its allocated aid, the district letter said.

“We are simply asking that we be funded at the same level as our peers by providing these districts with at least 70% of their fully phased-in amount,” the letter said.

Foundation Aid, first enacted in 2007-08, is the “largest unrestricted aid category supporting public school district expenditures in New York State,” according to the New York State Education Department 2019-2020 handbook. In 2019, it represented approximately 67.3% of the total state aid received by districts statewide.

Since 2008, the district has seen a 22.8% increase in student enrollment and a 307.9% increase in the number of English language learners. Nearly 50% of all students in the district receive free or reduced-price lunch.

Those who wish to attend the rally are asked to RSVP by emailing [email protected].