TODAY'S PAPER
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Long IslandEducation

Riverhead school district

VOTING

6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Riley Avenue Elementary School, Phillips Avenue Elementary School, Aquebogue Elementary School and Riverhead High School

THE BUDGET

The district proposes a $130,669,295 budget for 2016-17, a 3.78 percent increase from the current $125,909,672. The tax levy would rise by 0.50 percent, from $97,188,499 to $97,672,428.

This increase is within the district’s tax-cap limit — which is 0.59 percent, according to data from the state comptroller’s office — 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 home because equalization rates have not been set and tax rates for the three towns that the district includes could not be calculated.

The proposed budget includes raises of 0.75 percent plus step increases for some teachers; the size of the step increases depends on experience. There would be no reductions in staff, and the district would add up to one elementary position, 4.5 English as a New Language teachers, one math teacher, one science teacher, 0.5 social worker, two special education teachers, 0.5 speech therapist, one technology teacher and one secondary English as a New Language director.

  • District website:

www.riverhead.net

THE CANDIDATES

Incumbents Christopher J. Dorr and Amelia Lantz and candidates Laurie A. Downs, Gregory John Fischer, Bradford Harnig and Thomas W. Kruger are running for three at-large seats. The two highest vote-getters will receive three-year terms, while the third highest vote-getter will receive a one-year term to fill a seat vacated by a resignation.

Christopher J. Dorr

BACKGROUND: Dorr, 47, works in instructional support and data for the Plainview-Old Bethpage school district. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from SUNY Potsdam and a master of business administration degree from Clarkson University. He is a PAL football coach and an official for boys and girls lacrosse. He has three children who are attending or have attended district schools and has been on the school board for three years.

ISSUES: Dorr said a drastic increase in the population of English-language learners over the last three years is the most important issue facing the district. “Ideally I would like more assistance from the state to help meet the mandate of the number of ESL teachers that we have to now maintain,” he said. He said he thinks he has done a good job in his first term. “I think my knowledge of what I do for a living dealing with the state education department gives a good insight to the challenges that the school board faces,” Dorr said. “I face the deadlines at work that the school’s facing so it’s also checks and balances that nothing ever gets missed.”

Amelia Lantz

Lantz did not respond to requests for an interview. In a previous interview with Newsday, she said she served for 17 years with the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing and was deployed overseas four times, retiring in 2006. She is a lifelong resident of Riverhead and has two children that were attending district schools. She has been on the school board since 2010.

Laurie A. Downs

BACKGROUND: Downs, 60, is a booking agent for entertainers. She graduated from Hauppauge High School and has two children who attended district schools. She has served as the secretary of the Riverhead Middle School PTO, vice president and president of the Riverhead High School PTSO, and president and event planner with the district’s PTO executive council.

ISSUES: She said overcrowding in the schools and the high influx of English as a Second Language students are the most important issues facing the district. “The high school is overfilled, the elementary schools are bursting,” she said “It’s not the kids’ fault. It’s a federal thing, but it is impacting our schools. We have to go to our legislators and senators and work on them in order to help the district, and the districts need to get together and lobby our political leaders.”

Gregory John Fischer

BACKGROUND: Fischer, 59, is a management consultant. He has an associate degree in business management from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics 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 director and a board member of Americans for Legal Reform and a past trustee of the Greater Calverton Civic Association.

ISSUES: Fischer said he continues to believe the top issues facing the district are financial pressures and curriculum problems such as Common Core, program cuts and student relocation. He said Common Core should be suspended and that local curriculum controls should be expanded. He said he also would like to address issues of financial accountability.

Bradford Harnig

BACKGROUND: Harnig, 46, is a LIRR conductor. He has an associate degree in liberal arts from Suffolk County Community College and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from St. Joseph’s College. He also has certificates in leadership and supervision and in management from St. Joseph’s. He has three children in district schools. He also is a former Cubmaster with the Cub Scouts and a former Little League coach.

ISSUES: Harnig said he has a number of concerns about the influx of English as a Second Language students coming into the district, including the need to create space for them. “I would like to be a part of a team that will create a strategy or plan to accommodate these students and our community, both fiscally and responsibly,” he said. “Count on me that in very sensitive situations I will not give in to pressure from others. I will use common sense with the taxpayers’ hard-earned money.”

Thomas W. Kruger

BACKGROUND: Kruger, 50, is an assistant superintendent for the Riverhead Water District. He graduated from Riverhead High School and attended Dowling College. His four children attended or are attending district schools. He has coached teeball and girls softball.

ISSUES: Kruger said the most important issues facing the district include crowding in schools and Common Core. “I feel like I can do the best. I’ve been a lifelong resident of the town of Riverhead, and if I’m voted [in] I can do the best for everybody in the district — from staff, residents and, most of all, the students,” he said.

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