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Riverhead district passes contingency budget; superintendent resigns

Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez's salary was $184,324 in 2017-18,

Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez's salary was $184,324 in 2017-18, according to data reported to the New York State Teachers Retirement System. Credit: Barry Sloan

Riverhead Superintendent Aurelia Henriquez resigned because of “irreconcilable differences” on Monday, after the school board approved a contingency budget needed to continue operating.

Henriquez's departure, effective Tuesday, comes on the heels of the district’s proposed $147.1 million budget for 2020-21 being voted down in the June election. The contingency budget goes into effect Wednesday. 

Uniondale and Valley Stream 13, the two other Long Island districts that failed to garner enough votes for their proposed budgets, also have passed contingency budgets within the last week.

The three districts plan to hold a second budget vote, but only Valley Stream 13 has posted its proposed revised budget for the revote. The districts are waiting to hear from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on when the revote can take place and whether it will be by absentee ballot or in-person. Statewide revotes are expected to be held either July 21 or July 28.

In a joint statement with Henriquez, the Riverhead school board said her resignation is “based upon certain irreconcilable differences and in the best interests of her family.” She was hired for the position in 2017.

Henriquez’s salary was $184,324 in 2017-18, according to data reported to the New York State Teachers Retirement System, which Newsday obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Law.

Riverhead board trustees appointed Christine Tona, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, as interim superintendent, beginning Wednesday. The board plans to start a search process for a permanent superintendent, according to the statement.

Until a revote takes place, Riverhead will be operating under a $144.8 million contingency budget, which carries no tax levy increase, no equipment purchases and no raises. If a second vote fails, the contingency budget will be extended for 2020-21, according to the resolution the board passed unanimously Monday. 

Valley Stream 13 adopted a $53.9 million contingency budget last week, which also had no tax increase. The board endorsed a revised $54.4 million budget that would raise spending 2.51% and tax revenue 1%. 

The originally proposed $55.3 million budget had a 4.17% increase in spending and 1.99% increase in taxes, which voters rejected June 16. 

Uniondale adopted a $208.6 million contingency budget Monday. Voters rejected the district's proposed $211 million budget for 2020-21. 

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