School Budget Guide: Voters head to polls to decide school budgets in Riverhead, SWR

Residents will head to the polls Tuesday to vote on the 2022-23 school budgets.

In the Riverhead Central School District, taxpayers will decide on a $169.7 million spending plan, which carries a budget-to-budget increase of 6.49%. The tax levy — the amount of money raised through taxes — increases by 1% for a total of $105.6 million. That figure stays below the district’s allowable increase limit of 2.27%.

The budget would maintain and improve current district programming, starting with restoring a nine-period school day at the high school and middle school. It would also allow over 30 proposed new elective courses for students and create eight additional classrooms at the high school by relocating administrative offices, district officials said.

In addition, the budget would provide funding for the creation of makerspaces throughout the district, which are designed to create a hands-on learning environment for students, specifically in areas of science and engineering. Funding is also included for an alternative high school, which would be designed to help at-risk students. Superintendent Augustine Tornatore outlined the proposal earlier in the school year.

Additional funding would be geared toward areas of mental health and social-emotional learning for students and families, the district said.

“When developing this budget, the district not only focused on our long-term financial goals but also looked at ways in which we can increase our educational infrastructure to meet the needs of all students,” Mr. Tornatore said in the district’s budget guide.

Voters will decide on one special proposition in addition to the budget vote. The district is seeking to spend $56,000 from its Cafeteria Capital Reserve fund, established in 2018, for cafeteria renovations at Riverhead High School and Phillips Avenue and Riley Avenue elementary schools.

No tax impact is associated with this proposition since the project is to be funded through the reserve; however, voter approval is required to access those funds.

Three candidates are running for two open school board seats. Current board president Laurie Downs, current board vice president Matthew Wallace are facing challenger Andrew Nadeau, a 2007 Riverhead graduate. Read more about the candidates here.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Residents vote in the polling place that serves the area in which they live, according to the website. Click here to find out where to vote.

Voters rejected the budget twice in 2020, forcing the district into a contingency budget that drastically cut athletics and other extracurricular activities. Voters, however, did approve the current 2021-22 budget last May by a wide margin.

READ MORE: Annual budget vote

Taxpayers in the Shoreham-Wading River School District will vote on an $83 million spending plan. The proposal constitutes a 2.87% increase over last year’s budget, adding $2.3 million more..

The district’s proposed tax levy would increase by 1.7% to $56.5 million. 

The proposed budget maintains all current programs offered to students and includes various new course offerings for the high school. It will also enhance curriculum, health and safety and cybersecurity, according to the district’s budget newsletter.

Residents will also vote on a capital project proposition.

The proposal calls for renovation of two high school art classrooms and conversion of the high school auxiliary gymnasium to physical wellness center. The total cost for the proposition is $2.8 million. Funding to complete the work will come from prior years’ state aid, according to the district’s budget newsletter. Completing the project carries no cost to the taxpayer and would not increase the tax levy.

“With confidence, we have developed a budget that reflects community input and expectations and supports the academic, artistic, athletic and social-emotional learning successes of our students,” board president Katie Andersen said in the district’s budget newsletter.

There is no contested school board race this year, as two incumbents are running unopposed.

More information on Shoreham-Wading River’s proposed budget can be found on the district website, Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. at the high school gymnasium.

Read more: Annual budget vote