Nine candidates seek spots on Riverhead Board of Education

Nine candidates are seeking three open seats on the Riverhead Board of Education this year.

Incumbents Christopher Dorr and Therese Zuhoski are both seeking re-election, while longtime board member and president Greg Meyer has decided not to run again.

“I’ve put in 12 years,” Mr. Meyer said in an interview last week. “I think I had a good run and improved things.”

Several familiar names will appear on this year’s ballot as former Board of Education members Ann Cotten-DeGrasse, Angela DeVito and Amelia Lantz all filed petitions with the district clerk to run.

Ms. Cotten-DeGrasse and Ms. Lantz both resigned from their terms abruptly in 2017, citing board member quarrels and violations in procedure. The women claimed the board violated New York State Education Department laws regarding tenured administrative positions.

Ms. DeVito resigned from the board in 2011 during a school board meeting where things got tense over a multi-million dollar bond proposal for facility upgrades.

Other candidates include Greg Fischer, Ryan Gregor, Virginia Healy and Stephanie Ranghelli.

It’s the most candidates to run in a single school board election in Riverhead in at least 20 years. While candidates were still required to file petitions with their district clerk, the governor’s executive order suspended the requirement that candidates obtain a minimum number of signatures to run.

This year’s trustee election and budget vote will be conducted via absentee ballot on June 9 under an executive order by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Riverhead school board is expected to convene for a virtual meeting Tuesday, where they will adopt a proposed operating budget of $147,124,895. The spending plan reflects a 1.87% spending increase over last year’s $144,430,212 budget.

A second proposition will appear on the ballot this year to ask voters to authorize spending $469,470 from the district’s Cafeteria Capital Reserve Fund to replace serving lines at the cafeterias at the high school, middle school and Pulaski Street Elementary, as well as install a walk-in freezer and improve the serving area at Pulaski.

The Cafeteria Capital Reserve, established in 2015, is funded from surplus money generated by the Cafeteria program and not taxpayer dollars, though spending money from the fund requires voter approval.

The fund has approximately $635,292, according to district officials.

The school board will convene for a virtual public hearing on the proposed budget on Tuesday, May 26 at 4 p.m.

Prior to the June 9 vote, all registered voters will receive an absentee ballot and postage-paid return envelope. All absentee ballots shall be returned to the Office of the District Clerk of Riverhead CSD, 700 Osborn Ave., Riverhead, NY 11901 no later than 5 p.m. on June 9, 2020, officials said.