Photo: Denise Civiletti

Residents of the Riverhead Central School District will vote tomorrow on whether to adopt a $169.7 million operating budget for the 2022-2023 school year during the annual budget vote tomorrow. 

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 New York State budget, a 16.3% increase from the current school year’s adopted budget. 

The budget proposal calls for a $1,045,414 increase — a 1% increase — to the district tax levy, which would total $105.6 million of the district’s revenue in the 2022-23 school year. The tax levy cap this year, which is set by the state comptroller, is 2.27%. 

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at a resident’s local K-4 elementary school. Find your polling place here.

With new administrative leadership at the helm, led by Superintendent Augustine Tornatore, 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. The plan also includes the hiring of an additional STEM focused administrator, who would implement makerspace technology in the district. The largest increase in the budget is for instruction, which would increase more than $6.5 million, or 7%, over last year.

The line-by-line budget is available to view on the BOE’s website.

Also on the ballot tomorrow will be a proposition to authorize an expenditure not to exceed $56,000 in 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 cafeteria capital reserve, created in 2018, is funded from surplus money generated by the cafeteria program and not taxpayer dollars. Expenditure of cafeteria capital reserve funds has no impact on the tax levy.

The Board of Education held a public hearing on the budget last week that drew few comments. The Riverhead Central Faculty Association, the union representing district faculty, urged the community to pass the budget after living through a contingency budget for the 2020-21 school year, which left the district without many of its extracurricular programs.

There are three candidates running for two open seats on the school board this year. Incumbents Laurie Downs of Riverhead and Matthew Wallace of Calverton are seeking re-election. Andrew Nadeau of Calverton is running for the first time. Read about the school board candidates in our reporting here and in a Q&A format 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]