The Riverhead Board of Education is expected to take up resolutions at its meeting tonight approving $96.55 million facility improvement plans and scheduling a Feb. 25 public vote on two propositions that would implement the plans. See: school board agenda.
The plans were developed by district architects BBS and have been revised since first introduced to the public in September. After receiving public feedback during a series of forums and at school board meetings, district officials split the plans into two propositions.
Proposition 1 covers expansion and improvements to school buildings and construction of a new Pupil Personnel Services building, as well as infrastructure and security improvements and site work, at a total cost to taxpayers of $87,749,340. The proposition will also authorize, in addition, the expenditure of up to $500,000 from the “Cafeteria Capital Reserve Fund” to pay a portion of the cost of the plan.
Proposition 2 covers improvements to various athletic fields, including the conversion of McKillop field to synthetic turf and an expansion the parking area at the Pulaski complex at a total cost of $8,800,000.
District officials say the expansion of school facilities is necessary to accommodate the district’s growing student population. The total enrollment in the district increased from 4,816 students in 2009-2010 to 5,595 students in 2018-2019 — an increase of more than 16 percent, officials said. Pulaski Street Elementary School and the high school are already over-capacity, according to standards established by the state. The middle school is approaching its maximum capacity. The student population is projected to continue to grow for the next several years.
Residents pushed back against the plans, arguing that the district is not doing enough to verify student residency. They also complained that the town is not adequately enforcing its housing codes, allowing overcrowded housing to exist throughout the community, contributing to overcrowded schools.
The district scaled back the plans somewhat and decided to split the overall plan into two propositions, segregating the athletic field improvements which some critics said were non-essential.
Tonight’s full meeting agenda may be viewed on the district website. The facilities plan and budget appear below.
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