Riverhead Charter School executive director Raymond Ankrum, right, with students inside the new school facility in 2016. File photo: Katie Blasl

Riverhead Charter School is seeking to revise its charter to expand its enrollment capacity from 787 to 1,037 students over the next two years.

Riverhead Charter School executive director Raymond Ankrum said today the school needs to expand its maximum enrollment to meet “a tremendous demand” in its existing grades.

The charter school is authorized by the State Education Department to offer grades K-10, but is currently serving grades K-8.

The school is still searching for a permanent site for its high school, Ankrum said. The school will likely “build from the ground up,” he said.

The Riverhead Charter School’s new $14 million building opened in January 2015.
File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Charter School opened its doors in 2001 as a K-6 school with an initial enrollment of 150 students. The school, located in Calverton, draws students from 16 different school districts in Suffolk County. The bulk of its student body comes from the Riverhead Central School District.

Charter schools are public schools that operate independently from public school systems. Each school district that sends students to the charter school pays the charter school per-student tuition. The Riverhead school district is required to pay $17,974 for each of the approximately 365 Riverhead-resident students attending the charter school. The district expected to pay Riverhead Charter School $6,560,510 in tuition in the current academic year, according to the district’s 2019-2020 budget.

A district spokesperson said the tuition number is “outdated.”

“The Riverhead Central School District has up to 384 students and $6,832,896 in tuition, plus transportation costs,” the spokesperson said in an email after this story was published.

The Riverhead Board of Education of will hold a public hearing on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. at Riverhead High School to hear comments from the community on the proposed charter school revision application. The board of education has no decision-making power over the charter application but is required by state law to hold a public hearing and transmit public comments to the Board of Regents.

Editor’s note: This story was updated post-publication with a statement from a Riverhead school district spokesperson regarding the tuition currently paid by the district to the charter school.

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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.