Riverhead School Budget Voted Down, Again

Taylor K. Vecsey
The Riverhead School District office on Osborne Avenue.

With a difference of just 59 ballots, voters in the Riverhead Central School District again rejected a $147 million budget on Tuesday night.

There were 2,108 votes cast against the spending plan, while 2,049 votes were in favor.

This was the second time this budget has been voted down, though the school board was hoping for a different outcome than the mail-in vote held in June because of the COVID-19 pandemic. That vote failed 3,173 to 2,847.

But, the board made no changes to the budget for the second go-around.

“Our community has made its collective voices heard,” said Christine Tona, the interim superintendent, said in a statement on Tuesday night. “While we are disappointed in the failure of our budget, mostly for our students and staff, we will continue to explore ways in which we can continue offering our students opportunities to succeed in a safe and healthy school environment.”

The district now has to come to terms with serious cuts and layoffs, as it must continue to operate on a $144.8 million contingency budget.

In late June, the board was forced to adopt the contingency plan, based on state mandates, so that the district could continue to operate in the new fiscal year that started July 1. The contingency budget slashed nearly $1.5 million from athletics, music, and club programs.

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