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Voters OK school budget, elect Koukounas, Connelly and Silva to board of ed

Susan Koukounas, center, was re-elected to the board of education; Brian Connelly and Elizabeth Silva won election. Photo Denise Civiletti

Riverhead school district voters today approved a $140 million operating budget for 2018-2019 by a vote of 1,581 to 862, 65 percent to 35 percent.

Susan Koukounas, Brian Connelly and Elizabeth Silva were elected to the board of education.

As the top two vote-getters, Koukounas with 1,237 votes and Connelly with 1,133 votes, each won a three-year term of office.

Silva, who placed third at the polls with 933 votes, will serve out the balance of an unexpired term that’s up on June 30, 2019. 

Koukounas and Silva will be sworn into office by the district clerk tomorrow. Connelly’s term will begin July 1.

Amelia Lantz had 884 votes, Ronald Fisher had 867 votes, Joshua Berezny 563 votes and Greg Fischer 498 votes.

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Aurelia Henriquez, who was all smiles after the passage of her first budget as superintendent in Riverhead, said she was grateful to district voters for their support of the budget. 

Koukounas, who handily won re-election to a third term on the school board, echoed the superintendent’s sentiments. “I’m looking forward to serving again,” she added.

Newcomers Connelly and Silva were both at a loss for words. 

“I’m honored,” Silva said. “It’s humbling,” Silva is the first Latina ever elected to the Riverhead Board of Education.

Officials tally the votes in the May 15 for the school board elections and budget vote. Photo: Denise Civiletti

District voters also approved two propositions related to cafeteria improvements and the cafeteria fund.

One proposition authorizes the expenditure of up to $154,500 out of the cafeteria fund (also known as the food service fund) for improvements to the cafeterias at Phillips, Aquebogue and Riley Avenue elementary schools. The proposition passed 1,806 to 623.

The other authorizes the establishment of a cafeteria capital reserve fund of up to $4 million over 20 years for the purpose of funding future capital improvements to the district’s school cafeterias. The monies for the cafeteria capital reserve fund will come out of surplus funds, if any, in the cafeteria fund, of not more than $400,000 per fiscal year. The proposition passed 1,654 to 772.

The cafeteria fund represents targeted payments by the state to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students in the district. The district is allowed to utilize surplus monies in the fund for cafeteria-related expenditures.

All vote counts include 138 absentee ballots.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.