There are six candidates running for two open seats on the Riverhead Board of Education this year.
All six candidates answered nine questions posed by RiverheadLOCAL about the school district and what they would do if elected.
Polls are open Tuesday, May 18 from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the district’s four elementary school buildings. Residents registered to vote as of May 13 will cast ballots at the elementary school that a child living in their home would attend. Find your polling place here.
Voters are also voting on the proposed 2021-2022 operating budget, adopted by the board of education on April 20. Thanks to a more than $14 million increase in state education aid this year, the proposed $159.4 million budget requires no increase in the district’s property tax levy, even as it restores programs and positions cut in the current year’s contingency budget, adopted after district voters twice rejected the proposed budget last year.
There are seven elected trustees on the board of education, the agency authorized by state law to set educational policy for the district. Each member is elected to a three-year term. It is a volunteer position; board members receive no salary or other financial compensation.
Below are brief biographies for each candidate, followed by a link to the Q&A for each candidate. (The links open in a new window or tab.)
Brian Connelly, 46, of Riverhead, is seeking a second term of office. He has lived in the district more than 20 years and is the father of two children who attend Riverhead schools (Pulaski and Riverhead High School). Connelly is a New York City firefighter. He holds an associate’s degree from Suffolk County Community College and a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany. Connelly’s wife Bonnie is a teacher in another district.
Susan Koukounas, 49, of Aquebogue, is seeking a fourth term of office. A 20-year resident of the district, she is the mother of two recent graduates of Riverhead High School. Koukounas is an associate professor of mathematics at Suffolk County Community College. She hold a bachelor of science degree from SUNY Old Westbury, a master of science degree from CUNY Queens College and a doctor of education degree from Dowling College.
Colin Palmer, 30, of Riverhead, is making his first run for elective office. A lifelong Riverhead resident, he is a 2009 graduate of Riverhead High School. He is a theater director and artist. Palmer holds a bachelor of arts degree from Stony Brook University. He is single.
Monique Parsons, 36, of Calverton, is running for school board for the first time. She has lived in the district for two and a half years. Parsons is married and has two children attending Riverhead schools (Pulaski and Riley Avenue). Parsons is the director of marketing and development at East End Arts in Riverhead. She holds an associate’s degree from Suffolk County Community College, a bachelor of science degree in speech pathology and a bachelor of arts degree in child study from St. Joseph’s College and a master’s degree in education from C.W. Post/Long Island University.
Shannon Reitz, 36, of Riverhead, is seeking election to the school board for the first time. She has lived in the district “on and off since 1991” and has owned a home in the district since 2016. Reitz works as a risk consultant/insurance agent. She is single and the mother of one child, who attends Riverhead High School. Reitz holds an associate’s degree from Suffolk County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in child study from Long Island University.
Yolanda Thompson, 49, of Riverhead, has lived in the school district for more than 20 years. She has been a regular attendee at board meetings and is a special education advocate and consultant. She works in the finance division of the Suffolk County Department of Public Works. Thompson and her husband Daniel have two children, a son who is a 2018 Riverhead High School graduate and a daughter who is a sophomore in Riverhead High School.
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