File photo: Denise Civiletti

Riverhead Central School District voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of two capital construction bonds proposed by the board of education to address the district’s current and long-term facilities needs.

Proposition 1 would authorize the expenditure of $88,249,340 — new borrowing of $87,749,340 plus the expenditure of $500,000 from the district’s cafeteria reserve fund — to address spatial needs, infrastructure and security issues.

Proposition 2 would fund $8.8 million in athletic facility improvements, additional parking capacity and a “fairgrounds” entrance.

If the bond proposal is approved, new facilities could be occupied by September 2023, according to the district’s architects.

What is the property tax impact?

The first proposition would cost the owner of an “average” home in Riverhead $197 per year in additional taxes — $16.41 per month — according to district officials. The second would cost the owner of an “average” home $36 per year — $3 per month — in additional taxes.

What’s an ‘average’ home value in Riverhead?

The tax projections are based on an “average” property tax assessment in Riverhead Town of $43,000, which is not the same as its market value. Riverhead has not done a townwide reassessment in decades. Currently, properties in Riverhead are assessed at 12.35% of their market value. An assessed value of $43,000 therefore represents a market value of just under $350,000.

Inside Proposition 1

High School: $44 million. The bulk of the Proposition 1 expenditures — about 50 percent — would go to the high school, which is already at 104% of its capacity (under State Education Department guidelines), housing 2,035 students, according to district data. The district is proposing the addition of a two-story wing with 32 classrooms, plus support spaces, new cafeteria and serving line and additional gym lockers.

Pulaski Street Elementary School: $15.4 million. Addition of 10 classrooms, plus four support classrooms and physical education space. . Pulaski Street is currently already at 114% of its rated capacity, according to district data.

Phillips Avenue Elementary School: $2.1 million. Removal of three classrooms currently housed within modulars and relocation into new permanent spaces within the building.

Roanoke Avenue Elementary School: $495,243. Creation of four support spaces at the upper mezzanine balcony. This would open up two existing full-size classrooms for capacity.

Pupil Personnel Services building: $3.8 million. The district also proposes to construct a new, 7,000-square-foot building for Pupil Personnel Services next to the district office, at a total cost of The Pupil Personnel Services office is currently located in modular units on the south side of the high school, and must be relocated to make way for the high school expansion. The demolition of the modular units would cost an additional $211,125.

Other Proposition 1 items:

  • 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

Inside Proposition 2

Proposition 2, to fund new athletic facilities, is not a stand-alone proposition, meaning if it is approved by voters, it does not take effect unless Proposition 1 is also approved.

Proposition 2 covers:
• conversion of McKillop Field to synthetic turf
• construction of stadium track and field, including an eight-lane running track around the perimeter of McKillop Field
• relocation of varsity baseball and softball fields
• construction of paved multi-use courts at Pulaski Street Elementary School and Riverhead Middle School.
• expansion of parking and bus parking area at Pulaski Street Elementary School.
• improvements to the Riverhead Middle School baseball field
improvements to the “Fairgrounds” entrance.

What about the 2011 capital bond?

Tax increases for the proposed bond 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 the beginning of the district’s current fiscal year — July 1, 2019 — the 2011 capital project had $66,185,000 in principal and $15,114,071 in interest remaining, according to Riverhead Central School District Deputy Superintendent Sam Schneider

Voting on Feb. 25 will take place from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. at the district’s four K-4 elementary schools:

Riley Avenue Elementary School, 374 Riley Avenue, Calverton, for people residing in Election District No. 1;
Phillips Avenue Elementary School, 141 Phillips Avenue, for people residing in Election District No. 2;
Roanoke Avenue Elementary School, 549 Roanoke Avenue, Riverhead, for people residing in Election District No. 3; and
Aquebogue Elementary School, 499 Main Road, Aquebogue, for people residing in Election District No. 4.

The election districts have the same boundaries as the elementary school catchment areas, so people vote at the elementary school that children in the voter’s household would attend.

Residents can find their polling place by using this online tool provided by the school district: RCSD Poll Place Finder

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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.