Riverhead school district officials have increased by $1.8 million the capital expansion and improvement bond voters will be asked to approve — now set at $87.7 million — after receiving revised enrollment projections from Western Suffolk BOCES.
The revised projections add 180 students to previous estimates of high school enrollment in the fall of 2029. The district is now proposing to add 32 new classrooms to the high school, up from 24 new classrooms in the prior version of the proposal.
The revised high school expansion would cost $44 million, $3.6 million more than the previous price tag of $40.4 million. Reductions in other parts of the proposed scope of work bring the overall increase to $1.8 million.
The revised bond proposal will be put to a vote as two propositions, as a result of input from community members, who urged the district to prioritize classroom space over athletic facility improvements.
Proposition 1 is an $87.7 million proposal that would address spatial needs, as well as infrastructure and security needs.
A second proposition would fund $8.8 million in athletic facility improvements, additional parking capacity and a “fairgrounds” entrance.
Proposition 2 cannot be approved as a stand-alone, architect Kevin Walsh of BBS Architects said. Proposition 1 must be approved in order for any approval of the second proposition to be effective.
The district is pursuing a late February 2020 bond vote, officials said at Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Officials said they received revised enrollment projections on Nov. 13. The high school building is already at 104% of its capacity, housing 2,035 students, according to district data.
The finalized proposal shaves the cost of expansions at Pulaski and Roanoke by $600,000 and $18,415, respectively and cut the cost of various “capital projects” from $19 million to $18 million.
The finalized breakdown of the proposal is as follows:
Proposition 1 —
- High school expansion: the addition of a two-story classroom wing with 32 classrooms, plus support spaces, new cafeteria and serving line and additional gym lockers. Total cost: $44 million, about 50% of the total bond estimate.
- Pulaski School expansion: the addition of 10 classrooms, plus four support classrooms and physical education space. Total cost: $15.4 million
- Phillips School expansion: removal of three classrooms currently housed within modulars and relocation into new permanent spaces within the building. Total cost: $2.1 million
- Roanoke School expansion: Creation of four support spaces at the upper mezzanine balcony. This would open up two existing full size classrooms for capacity. Total cost: $495,243
- Pupil Personnel Services: New 7,000 sq. ft building next to district office (currently located in the old modulars on the south side of the high school, where new expansion would go.) Total cost $3.8 million
- Demolition of old high school south portables (currently houses PPS). Total cost $211,125
- Parking lot construction to accommodate new expansions. Total cost $675,000
- District-wide safety, security and ADA requirements. Total cost: $3.3 million
- Capital projects: Infrastructure improvements and replacements at all buildings, which include roofing systems, replacing boilers, renovating toilets, among other changes. Total cost: $18 million
Proposition 2 —
- McKillop Field synthetic turf conversion. Total cost : $2.2 million
- McKillop Stadium construction of an eight-lane running track and field. Total cost : $3 million
- Varsity baseball field improvements. Total cost : $1.3 million
- Construction of multi-use courts. Total cost : $350,000
- Parking expansion and bus parking at Pulaski School. Total cost: $650,000
- “Fairgrounds” entrance. Total cost: $250,000
- Middle school baseball field improvements. Total cost: $265,000
- Varsity softball field improvements. Total cost: $650,000
Tuesday’s presentation also included a look at the tax impact that the bond proposal will have on homeowners in the district.
Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider said that the average assessed valuation of a home in Riverhead is $43,000. On average, Proposition 1 will cost a homeowner $197 per year in additional taxes. Proposition 2 will cost the owner of an average home $36 per year in additional taxes.
Schneider noted that homes in Southampton and Brookhaven were assessed differently, but that the tax impact would be largely the same.
The tax increases would come on top of the cost of the $78.3 million capital construction bond approved by voters in October 2011 to pay for renovations, upgrades and additions to the district’s school buildings.
As of July, the 2011 capital project had $66,185,000 in principal and $15,114,071 in interest remaining, Schneider said in a previous interview.
He urged voters to contact the district’s business office at (631) 369-6711 for individual information of their properties.
If the bond proposal is approved in February, new facilities could be occupied by September 2023.
Riverhead Central Faculty Association president Gregory Wallace publicly supported the bond proposal, congratulated the superintendent and the board, and urged voters to approve the bond.
“The bond proposal has evolved over the past few months, and as a teacher, a taxpayer and a parent, I commend the superintendent and the board for being responsible to the community input, since they have made changes that have been recommended,” Wallace said.
“Standing here today I can tell you that we are in desperate need of space, the hallways and some of our schools are difficult to navigate through. There’s no doubt that a closed campus at the high school would no doubt be a safer environment for kids, faculty and staff,” he said.
“There are tremendous amounts of positives in this bond and should it pass the bond will leave a positive impact on the lives of the children that attend Riverhead schools.”
Superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez announced additional presentations of the finalized bond proposal for Wednesday, Jan. 8 at 12 p.m at the Riverhead Free Library, Saturday Feb. 1 at 9 a.m at the Riverhead High School and Thursday Feb. 13 at 7 p.m at the high school.
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