Public hearing set ahead of school budget revote

The Riverhead Central School District will hold a revote on its failed $147.1 million spending plan next Tuesday, July 28.

Voting will take place in person from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the usual polling locations. Voters should respond to the corresponding elementary school a child living in their home would attend.

In a June election conducted entirely by absentee ballot, Riverhead voters defeated the budget proposal, which carries a 1.87% spending increase over last year’s $144 million budget. The property tax levy would be $106,852,122, which is below the tax cap limit for Riverhead, according to Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider.

The budget was rejected 3,173 to 2,847 — the only budget to fail in Suffolk County and the first for Riverhead since 2006.

According to an FAQ document published by the district Friday, officials say the identical budget was proposed because “The Board of Education believes that this is a responsible budget that maintains our district’s large variety of programs and offerings for students,” and is within the tax cap with a levy increase of 2.21%.

If the revote fails, the district must continue operating on a contingency budget it adopted in late June.

The contingency budget would cut the entire athletics program, all student clubs and music performance groups and after-school busing. Some secondary elective courses, elementary literacy programs, science programs and maintenance would also be reduced under a contingency plan. Fall sports are currently slated to begin no early than Sept. 21.

Ahead of the July 28 revote, the Board of Education will hear public comment during a virtual budget hearing Tuesday.

The public portion of the meeting will begin at 7 p.m. and can be accessed on YouTube here:

Public comments are being accepted through a Google form here.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting, interim superintendent Christine Tona is also expected to give an update on reopening schools.

The Board of Education will also consider a resolution to appropriate up to $155,125.94 in unspent funds from 2019-2020 into reserves. District officials have said that allocating those funds into reserves may help offset cuts to state funding anticipated due to the COVID-19 economic crisis.