Newly elected trustees Laurie Downs and Matthew Wallace. Photo: Denise Civiletti

(Updated — 10:55 p.m.) Riverhead school district voters Tuesday approved the 2019-2020 operating budget and re-elected Laurie Downs and elected Matthew Wallace to the board of education.

Voters also approved, by a vote of 1,455 to 797, a proposition authorizing the district to spend $3.9 million to purchase about 44 new buses over the next five years. They also authorized, 1,706 to 558, spending $275,000 from the Cafeteria Capital Reserve for cafeteria improvements at the high school and middle school.

The $144.4 million budget passed by a vote of 1,468 to 806.

Downs, elected to a second term of office, was the top vote-getter in the four-way race for two trustee seats, with 1,155 votes. Wallace came in second with 1,148 votes. Jerome Bost won 1,033 votes and incumbent Elizabeth Silva, 845 votes.

School officials gathered in the Roanoke Avenue Elementary School cafeteria to await the returns after the polls closed at 9 p.m. Officials from the Suffolk County Board of Elections tallied the votes at the back of the room, screened from view by a makeshift partition of folded-up cafeteria tables. At about 9:45, Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider rolled an overhead projector to the front of the cafeteria. The room fell silent as Schneider revealed the vote results, projected onto a screen on the wall.

“All three propositions have passed and Laurie Downs and Matt Wallace have been elected,” an official announced.

After a brief round of applause, words of congratulations and consolation were quietly exchanged.

“I want to thank the community for their ongoing support and for voting for the budget and what’s in the best interests of all students,” Schools Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Hernandez said in an interview.

Downs and Wallace expressed optimism and thanks and pledged to work hard for the district.

“I thank everybody for the support. I’ll try not to let them down,” Downs said.

“I want to thank everybody who came out to vote and support Jerome and myself and all the other candidates,” Wallace said. “It was a nice clean campaign. We had good conversations with Laurie and Elizabeth,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the next three years.”

Silva was philosophic. “I told my daughters, ‘que sera, sera‘ — what will be will be,” she said. Silva, who was elected to a one-year term a year ago to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of a trustee, thanked the community for the opportunity to serve. “It was a great experience,” she 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.