Riverhead has joined with four other area districts — Glen Cove, Westbury, Port Chester and Ossining — to advocate for change to the state aid funding formula. The group, dubbed the “Harmed Suburban Five” have a website advocating for change and soliciting residents to contact lawmakers and sign an online petition.

The districts are seeking change, Henriquez said, “so that when they look at a district like Riverhead, they will consider our increase in overall student population, our increase in ENL students, the increase we’ve experienced in terms of free- and reduced-lunch students and the fact that we are number one in New York State for migrant students.

“These are all things that need to be considered when funds are distributed to school districts,” Henriquez said. “Unfortunately Riverhead and several other districts have not gotten their fair share.”

The districts have been “very, very active” and done “quite a bit of advocacy work this year in particular in that area,” she said.

Riverhead Central School District officials are waiting for final numbers on state aid before finalizing their budget proposal for the upcoming academic year, School Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez told the board of education and the public Tuesday night.

The tentative proposed budget for the 2019-2020 school year currently stands at slightly more than $144 million, but that amount will not fully fund all programs at levels district officials desire. If the State Legislature does not increase state aid above the $32.4 million in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget, the administration will need to make cuts to stay within the tentative $144 million budget, which keeps the plan within the 2-percent tax levy cap, Henriquez said.

The district’s final proposed budget will not exceed the 2-percent tax levy limitation, the superintendent said.

The State Legislature and governor have a deadline of April 1 to adopt a state budget.

“We’re at a very, very critical time right now,” she said.

The board of education must adopt a proposed budget on April 16 in order to stay on track for a May 14 public hearing and a May 21 budget vote, Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider said.

Once adopted, the budget will be available on the district website, at Riverhead Free Library and in all school buildings, Schneider said.

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