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Riverhead schools eye 5-year plan to improve graduation rates and more

Riverhead schools Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said he hopes

Riverhead schools Superintendent Augustine Tornatore said he hopes the plan will lead to higher graduation rates. Riverhead High School had a 79% graduation rate in 2020. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Riverhead Central School District is working on creating a five-year plan that school officials hope will put the district in good standing with New York State and increase graduation rates.

The district announced earlier this month that it would be setting up a steering committee made up of various stakeholders in the Riverhead community to start working on the plan. The committee’s core group — which is made up of district teachers, administrators, and school board and student representatives, among others — held its first meeting on Monday.

Riverhead schools Superintendent Augustine Tornatore told Newsday in a recent interview he hopes the plan will lead to higher graduation rates. Riverhead High School had a 79% graduation rate in 2020, while the district overall posted a 76% graduation rate for that year, according to state Department of Education figures.

In addition to getting the district’s students to be college- and career-ready after graduation, Tornatore said the plan also is important to the district for "budgeting purposes, so we can really take a look how we can prepare the budget over the next several years, so we can offer these opportunities, but have as conservative an increase as possible."

While the committee will weigh in on what to prioritize, Tornatore said people have told him creating more classroom space for the district’s rising enrollment is something the plan should address. Providing more electives for students also could be included, he said.

The district also seeks to align all its elementary schools so that they have the same curriculum, enact a nine-period day for its students beginning next year, and relaunch an alternative high school.

Tornatore, in the earlier interview, also said he hopes the plan places the district in good standing with the state. The state Education Department identified the Riverhead school district in 2019 as a "target district" in need of academic improvement.

Diane Tucci, co-president of The Riverhead High School Parent Teacher Student Organization, said she was not involved in the planning process. However, she added, she would seek to learn more about the plan soon.

Tornatore said he hopes to have a finalized plan submitted to the district’s school board to vote on by the end of June.

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