Residents of the Riverhead Central School District will head to the polls Feb. 25 to vote on two separate propositions totaling $97 million to fund repairs and renovations that would address critical space needs in the district.
For several years, district officials and community members have discussed ways to adapt district facilities to accommodate rising enrollment. Since the 2010-11 academic year, Riverhead’s K-12 student population has increased by over 22%. Data compiled by Western Suffolk BOCES predicts that 2,272 students will occupy the high school by October 2023 — topping the building’s maximum capacity of 1,955 students. The high school and Pulaski Street Elementary School both currently operate at overcapacity.
The Board of Education, district administration and consultant BBS Architects pitched the roughly $100 million bond in September 2019. Later that month, district officials began hosting public forums to gather community input on the proposal. The plan underwent several revisions based on that feedback.
If the bond is approved Tuesday, site work would begin in June or July to avoid disrupting instruction. The second proposition is contingent on the first and will not move forward unless the first proposition is also approved.
Some residents, worried about the bond’s impact on taxpayers, have pushed back, arguing that the district is not effectively verifying student residency. Others have said the lack of housing code enforcement at the town level has led to overcrowded schools.
In 2010, voters rejected a roughly $125 million bond project presented by the district. Had that plan been approved, it would have addressed items that were cut from a revised $78 million plan that district voters passed in 2011. The current bond proposal includes some of the items not included in the 2011 proposal.
“We believe now is the right time to present this fiscally responsible bond to the community, so that everyone will have a voice in deciding our district’s future.”Greg Meyer, school board president
PROPOSITION NO. 1: $88,249,340
Total includes $500,000 to be taken from the district’s Capital Reserve Fund
– Repairs/renovations districtwide to ensure equitable classroom instruction and support space for all students
– Construction of an extension to Riverhead High School and removal of portable classrooms
– Construction of a new Pupil Personnel Services building, which must be relocated to accommodate the high school extension
– Construction of additional classrooms and reconfiguration of existing space at Phillips Avenue, Pulaski Street and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools
– Districtwide safety and security enhancements that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act
– Repairs/renovations to bathrooms districtwide, as needed
– Repairs/renovations to heating, A/C and ventilation systems districtwide, as needed
– Repair/replacement of sidewalks and walkways districtwide, as needed
PROPOSITION NO. 2: $8,800,000
– Synthetic turf conversion of McKillop Field
– Construction of new track and field stadium
– Relocation of varsity baseball/softball fields
– Upgraded multi-use courts at Pulaski Street Elementary School and Riverhead Middle School
– Expansion of vehicle and school bus parking areas at Pulaski Street
– Improvements to Riverhead Middle School baseball field
– Improvements to Pulaski Fairgrounds and entrance
“If the bond is not supported, the thought of offering a split-session high school experience will need to become a reality and will offer our children a bare minimum educational experience. That experience would not include the many after-school opportunities and enriching experiences that they now have.Aurelia Henriquez, superintendent
COST TO TAXPAYERS
The average assessment of a home in Riverhead is $43,000, according to the district. Estimated costs are based on that assessment.
Additional tax cost of both propositions for the average homeowner = $19.41 per month
Proposition No. 1 = $16.41 per month
Proposition No. 2 = $3 per month
Voters may call deputy superintendent Sam Schneider at 631-369-6711 for a cost calculation based on a specific property.
WHEN & WHERE TO VOTE
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Vote at the elementary school a child living in your home would attend.
Aquebogue: 499 Main Road, Aquebogue
Phillips Avenue:141 Phillips Ave., Riverhead
Riley Avenue: 374 Riley Ave., Calverton
Roanoke Avenue: 549 Roanoke Ave., Riverhead