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Six BOE candidates to vie for two open seats in Riverhead

Six candidates will vie for two open seats on the Riverhead Board of Education in next month’s election, according to a list of names announced by the district clerk following Monday afternoon’s deadline to file a petition.

Incumbents Brian Connelly, who was first elected in 2018, and Susan Koukounas, who has served on the board since 2012, are both seeking re-election to a three-year term.

They will be challenged by newcomers Colin Palmer, Monique Parsons, Shannon Reitz and Yolanda Thompson, who has mounted previous campaigns for the Board of Education, most recently in a 10-way race for three seats in 2020.

In Shoreham-Wading River, there are two open seats on the board and both incumbents in that race, James Smith and Robert Rose, will run unopposed.

Mr. Smith was elected to the school board in 2018 and Mr. Rose was first elected in 2012.

According to the latest budget presentation, Riverhead has proposed a $159.4 million budget that would restore all sports, music and club programs cut under this year’s contingency budget and restore positions that were not funded, including a high school assistant principal and assistant director of pupil personnel services.

Thanks to a huge increase in state and federal funding, programs and services are expected to expand next year while the tax rate for residents remains flat.

Shoreham-Wading River has revised its budget proposal after the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention issued updated guidance for schools in March.

Under the revised plan, the Briarcliff school would close and kindergarten would return to Miller Avenue Elementary for the 2021-2022 school year.

Large spaces, like gymnasiums, cafeterias, auditoriums and libraries, would also be converted back to their originally intended uses.

The new proposal calls for a $80.7 million overall budget, a 4.57% increase over this year’s $77.1 million spending plan.

The tax levy is expected to rise by $552,874, which represents a .99% increase over last year’s levy.

Voters in Shoreham-Wading River will also be asked to vote on two additional propositions on their ballot.

Proposition 2 will ask voters to spend $7.5 million in capital reserve funds to replace ventilators at the Wading River School and high school, complete partial roof repairs at several buildings, purchase and install a generator to provide backup power to certain areas at the  high school and renovate two bathrooms at the middle school.

Proposition 3 will ask voters to authorize the creation of a 2021 capital reserve in order to plan for future projects.

The maximum amount of the reserve would be $7.5 million and voter approval would be required to both establish and spend from the fund.

Both districts are expected to adopt their final budgets at Tuesday night BOE meetings. A public hearing will be held in Shoreham-Wading River on May 4 and in Riverhead on May 11. This year’s school board elections and budget votes are scheduled for May 18.