File photo: Diane Tucci

The Riverhead Central School District will start the process of creating a strategic plan to guide the district’s goals for budgeting and learning for the next five years.

According to Superintendent Augustine Tornatore, a steering committee charged with formulating the plan will begin meeting next week. Tornatore said he wants a plan to be presented to the community and adopted by the Board of Education by the end of the current school year. The plan is referred to in an announcement on the district’s website as a “five-year futuristic plan.” 

“The more that you plan out something, it gives a clearer picture to the staff, to parents, [to] students, [to] the community [for] what direction the district’s going to go in, and it also makes things easier when you’re budgeting,” Tornatore said. 

“My goal is to be able to offer as many opportunities as we can for our students, but with a conservative tax levy increase,” he added. “And of course that needs careful planning.”

Although Tornatore did not say who is assigned to the committee, he said it will be made up of community stakeholders, teachers, staff members, administrators and a member of the board of education. Tornatore said the committee will likely be led by Lori Koerner, the district’s executive director of curriculum, instruction and professional personnel.

“It’s important to hear what’s happened in the past and what people are bringing to the table with their thoughts. And then how we want to improve things and how we want to make things better,” Tornatore said.

He said the district needs to focus on the future of learning and that the plan will address how students collaborate, how students seek out trustworthy information, creating more opportunities related to STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — and address the needs of ENL — English as a new language — students.

“As society changes, school districts have to change along with that,” Tornatore said. “So we just have to make sure that we keep pace, especially as our younger students are coming in, so that when they do graduate high school, they’re ready for the workforce.”

He said the plan will also address the use of technology in the classroom. “All children today have the challenge of socializing versus using their devices,” Tornatore said. “There has to be a balance.” 

Tornatore said the steering committee will not be an open process. However, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the plan closer to its consideration by the board. 

“I don’t want it to be a voluminous document that sits on the website and that nobody reads or sees,” Tornatore said of the plan. “I want it to really be a driving force for positive change here.”

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: [email protected]