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Riverhead proposes school district repairs

Riverhead's school board is proposing a $78.3-million bond issue to make repairs, renovations and improvements at every school building in the district -- a bond much smaller than the $123-million proposal defeated by a nearly 2-1 ratio a year ago.

The vote is Oct. 11, and residents will also get to vote on a $6.95-million bond to add a new gym/multipurpose room at the high school, but it will not be built unless the larger referendum also passes, said Superintendent Nancy Carney.

While there was no public discussion when the school board approved the proposal Tuesday night, the district has been working with a committee of about 50 people from the school and the community to help assure passage of the referendum.

District officials are still studying the best way to finance the bond issue. If approved, construction is expected to start next summer, with needed roof repairs at Riverhead Middle School and Aquebogue Elementary School. It is expected to take four years to complete work at each of the buildings in the district.

While district officials do not have final assessment figures and equalization rates, they estimate the cost of the bonds would average $185 a year for a typical house in Riverhead -- because the bonds would not all be sold in the first few years, residents would pay less as construction is phased in -- while the gym proposal would cost an additional $25 a year. Similar increases are expected to be seen in the parts of the school district that are in Brookhaven and Southampton towns.

Residents can vote at Riverhead High School and also at the Riley Avenue, Phillips Avenue and Aquebogue elementary schools.

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