Riverhead Schools Superintendent Augustine Tornatore and school board President Laurie Downs at Tuesday night's board meeting. Photo: Alek Lewis

The Riverhead Board of Education Tuesday night adopted a $169.7 million proposed operating budget for the 2022-2023 school year. 

The proposed budget is $10.3 million more than the current year’s operating budget — a 6.5% increase. The budget is supplemented by $56.3 million in state and foundation aid from the final legislative budget, a 16.3% increase from the current school year’s adopted budget. The budget proposes a 1% increase to the district tax levy, which totals $105.6 million of the district’s revenue.

The school district is embarking on an increase in course offerings and the return to a nine-period day in the middle and high schools. Included in the budget plan is the hiring of 15 new full-time teachers at the high school and four new full-time teachers at the middle school.

See prior coverage: Riverhead school district administration proposes $170.6 million budget for next year, with a 1% tax levy increase

A public hearing on the budget will be held on May 10. The budget vote and election of trustees will take place on May 17.

The adopted budget reduced spending by $800,000 from what the district first proposed, due to an $800,000 decrease in the state aid anticipated based on the governor’s executive budget proposal. Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said the district will not increase the proposed tax levy more than 1%, and instead shave spending. It will hold off on hiring additional staff for the district’s business office and school offices.

Tornatore said none of the cuts will affect student programs, the hiring of an additional administrator to implement makerspace technology in the district, or the proposal to hire 19 new full-time teachers.

The budget proposal also includes a $1.5 million transfer to the capital fund to cover the first phase of a project to upgrade the district’s security system with door-access technology in the high school and middle school.

Alongside whether to approve the budget, voters will see one other proposition on the ballot this May. The proposition will ask voters whether to authorize the use of not more than $56,000 cafeteria capital reserve funds to purchase a walk-in refrigerator at Phillips Avenue Elementary, two warming cabinets at the high school and two milk coolers at Riley Avenue Elementary. The reserve fund was created in 2018 and the authorization to use the funds would have no impact on the tax levy.

Tornatore said he welcomes any community members who have questions about the budget before the vote to make an appointment to sit down with him to discuss the budget. He also said the district plans to have events to present the budget to local civic associations both in-person and through Zoom.

“I’m pleased that the board is supporting this,” Tornatore said. “And all I could say is that I hope that members of the community come out and vote.”

Correction: This article has been amended to correct a misstatement in an earlier version about relocating the district’s business office. The business office, along with other central administration offices, will be moving to leased space on Harrison Avenue, pursuant to a lease approved March 22 by the board of education.

Correction: The original version of this article incorrectly stated that the ballot proposition authorizing the use of the cafeteria capital reserve fund for cafeteria projects was for not more than $66,000. The amount is actually not more than $56,000. RCSD-Property-Tax-Report-Card-BOE-4-12-22

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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]