TODAY'S PAPER

Riverhead school district

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Riley Avenue, Phillips Avenue, Aquebogue and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $140,380,950 budget, a 2.93 percent increase from the current $136,388,547 budget. The tax levy would rise 0.91 percent, from $101,357,047 to $102,280,638.

The tax increase is $17 below the state’s .91 percent tax cap-limit,...

To Continue...

Already a Newsday subscriber ?

Get unlimited digital access $1 for 4 Weeks

$0.99/Week Thereafter

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Riley Avenue, Phillips Avenue, Aquebogue and Roanoke Avenue elementary schools.

THE BUDGET

advertisement

The district proposes a $140,380,950 budget, a 2.93 percent increase from the current $136,388,547 budget. The tax levy would rise 0.91 percent, from $101,357,047 to $102,280,638.

The tax increase is $17 below the state’s .91 percent tax cap-limit, so a simple majority vote will be required to approve the budget. The district said it could not provide estimates for school taxes on the average single-family house because the district comprises land from three towns and equalization rates have not been finalized.

The proposed budget calls for teachers to receive a 1 percent raise plus some step increases, with the size of the step dependent on experience. An elementary school teacher is retiring and will not be replaced because of a decline in kindergarten enrollment, and a school nurse is being excessed because of the closure of McGann-Mercy High School.

The proposed budget would add a bilingual high school guidance counselor, a Spanish teacher, a bilingual reading teacher, 0.5 reading teacher, one ENL teacher, two door monitors and a school resource officer.

Voters also will decide on two ballot propositions for cafeteria improvements districtwide.

One asks to use $154,500 in food services funds to purchase a walk-in freezer at Phillips Avenue Elementary and install larger sinks at Aquebogue, Phillips and Riley elementary schools.

Another asks to establish a cafeteria capital reserve fund of up to $4 million using cafeteria revenue for future improvements.

advertisement

Neither would have an impact on the tax rate, the district said.

District website:

www.riverhead.net

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbents Ronald Fisher and Susan Koukounas are facing off against challengers Joshua Berezny, Brian P. Connelly, Gregory John Fischer, Amelia Lantz and Elizabeth C. Silva for three at-large seats. Fisher and Perez were appointed in August after the resignation of Amelia Lantz and Ann Cotton-DeGrasse’s term was up this year. Lantz’s term runs through 2019, which caused the one-year term.

The third highest vote-getter gets a one-year term to fill a vacancy. Koukounas and Connelly are running as a team. Ronald Fisher, Lantz and Silva are running as a slate.

Joshua Berezny

advertisement

BACKGROUND: Berezny, 28, does freelance auto body work and farming. He served as a volunteer firefighter from about 2009 to 2013 and was secretary of his engine company for two years.

ISSUES: Berezny said he wants to change how the board operates, citing “a lot of infighting” and a lack of discussion on issues. “I want to switch it all up. I want to tell [Gov. Andrew M.] Cuomo, “Keep your state aid. It’s not helping us here.’” He also said security staff could carry concealed firearms to prevent school shootings.

Brian P. Connelly

BACKGROUND: Connelly, 43, is a New York City firefighter with two daughters in district schools. He has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Albany. He is running on a team with Koukounas.

ISSUES: Connelly said he wants to strengthen current programs, including Latin, while respecting the tax cap. He said there is “no one right answer” for dealing with school security issues and he plans to collaborate with parents and educators. He said he respects “parents’ choice regarding high stakes testing.”

Gregory John Fischer

BACKGROUND: Gregory Fischer, 61, is a management consultant. He received an associate degree from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, a bachelor’s degree from SUNY New Paltz and a master’s degree in production and operations management from the University at Albany. He has four children, two of whom are in district schools. He is a board member of Americans for Legal Reform and a past trustee of the Greater Calverton Civic Association. This is his fourth run for the board. He ran unsuccessfully for state senate in 2017.

ISSUES: Fischer said the district’s status as a focus district by the state education department is the “most critical problem.” He said he wants to improve graduation rates by changing the period structure to make time available in the day for student remediation and for administration to work with teachers to improve programs. Fischer said he wants to allow parents and guardians in the district to be able to vote in school elections regardless of their overall voting status.

Ronald Fisher

BACKGROUND: Ronald Fisher, 34, is a sign shop owner. He has a bachelor’s degree from St. Joseph’s College. He is the president of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association and an executive on the Southampton Democratic Committee. He unsuccessfully ran for Southampton Town trustee in 2017. He has been on the board for a year and is running on a slate with Silva and Lantz.

ISSUES: Ronald Fisher said inequality in education is why the district received state focus status, and the district needs to do a better job teaching English language learners and creating a consistent curriculum among the elementary schools. He supports bag checks and metal detectors at indoor sporting events.

Susan Koukounas

BACKGROUND: Koukounas, 46, is a math professor at Suffolk County Community College. She has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Old Westbury, a master’s degree from Queens College and a doctorate from Dowling College. She has been on the board since 2012 and is currently vice president. She is running as a team with Connelly. Her two children attend district schools.

ISSUES: Koukounas said she is always looking to partner on shared services with BOCES and Riverhead Town and supports using data programs to find room for improvements, including moving out of state focus status. “The No. 1 issue is, how can we continually provide and enhance the programs we have while being fair to the taxpayer,” she said.

Amelia Lantz

BACKGROUND: Lantz, 53, is pursuing a degree in hotel and resort management at Suffolk County Community College and is a United States Air Force veteran. She has two children in the school district. She previously served on the board for seven years and resigned in 2017.

ISSUES: Lantz said she wants to “move heaven and hell to get us off that list” of focus schools. She wants to update antiquated programs, such as the reading comprehension program, and give the new district superintendent “the best opportunity” to move forward.

Elizabeth C. Silva

BACKGROUND: Silva, 55, is a special-education teacher at the Eastern Suffolk BOCES at Westhampton Beach Learning Center, which three Riverhead district students attend. She has a bachelor’s degree from Marywood University and a master’s degree from Adelphi University. She is a founding member of the Organizacion Latino-Americana of Eastern Long Island and tutors with BOCES’ migrant education program. One daughter graduated from the district and the other is in the district’s middle school. She is running on a slate with Ronald Fischer and Lantz.

ISSUES: Silva said she wants to focus on equality of education and get parents more involved in their children’s education. She said she decided to run because of school safety concerns and supports metal detectors in schools and training school security staff more.