Pictured Above: Riverhead’s Pulaski Street School is in need of a serious expansion.

While most East End school districts saw their budgets pass by wide margins in the first-ever all-mail balloting for school budget votes, Riverhead’s budget had failed by the time all votes were counted Wednesday afternoon.

In total, 6,020 school budget votes were cast in Riverhead, with 52.7 percent voting ‘no’ on the proposed $147.1 million budget.

The Riverhead Central School District is the largest school district on the East End, educating nearly 5,500 students in eight separate schools, with students coming from as far as Jamesport, Wading River and Flanders to be educated by the system.

Riverhead, which is facing an unprecedented increase in enrollment, had put up two construction bonds totaling $95 million earlier this year, which failed spectacularly, with 74 percent of voters casting ‘no’ votes.

Incumbent School Board members Christopher Door and Therese Zuhoski were re-elected to the board, along with their running mate Virginia Healy, a former educational consultant and financial planner.

In other districts across the East End, voters cast their mail-in ballots overwhelmingly in favor of their local school budgets. Most districts reported results late Tuesday evening, though some were still counting massive numbers of ballots well into Wednesday.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had issued an executive order in May ordering school districts to conduct the vote entirely by mail due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the North Fork, the Mattituck-Cutchogue School District’s $41.4 million budget passed, with 68.8 percent of 2,414 voters casting “yes” votes. Incumbent School Board member Brian Mealy was defeated at the polls, and Patricia Arslanian and Mary Lynn Hoeg  were elected to the board.

Southold voters passed a $31 million budget by 74.8 percent, with 1,563 voters casting ballots. Incumbent school board members Scott Latham and Brian Tobin were re-elected.

Greenport’s $20.1 million budget was approved by 69.5 percent of the 794 voters who cast ballots. Incumbent board member Kirsten Droskoski was re-elected.

In Oysterponds, 84.6 percent of the 488 voters who cast ballots said yes to the district’s proposed $5.8 million budget. Incumbents Janice Caufield, Jeffrey Demarest and Erin Johnson were re-elected to the school board.

Tiny New Suffolk saw the highest percentage of ‘yes’ votes, with 95.4 percent of the 108 voters in favor of the budget. Board president Tony Dill, running unopposed, was re-elected.

School budgets also passed by wide margins on the South Fork.

East Hampton saw overwhelming approval for its $72 million budget, with 80 percent of 1,202 voters saying yes to the spending. Incumbent board members Jacqueline Lowey and John Ryan were re-elected.

In Southampton, a $73 million budget won the favor of 69.2 percent of 2,031 votes cast. Incumbent school board members James McKenna and Anastasia Gavalas, running unopposed, were re-elected

Seventy and a half percent of 2,316 Hampton Bays voters said yes to a $55.2 million budget for 2020-21, with incumbent board member Dorothy Capuano, running unopposed, re-elected to the board.

In Sag Harbor, 1,970 voters came out, passing a $44.3 million budget by 67.3 percent. Incumbents Brian DeSesa and Alex Kriegsman were re-elected, along with former School Board President Sandi Kruel.

In Springs, 70 percent of 1,048 voters approved the school budget, with incumbent board members Patrick Brabant and Timothy Frazier re-elected unopposed.

In Amagansett, 83 percent of 321 of voters said yes to an $11.4 million spending plan. Incumbent board member Kevin Warren was re-elected and Meredith Cairns won a seat on the board over incumbent Kimberly Sliklein.

Bridgehampton School District voters approved a $19 million budget, with 72 percent of 364 voters saying yes to the budget. Incumbent board members Kathleen McCleland and Markanthony Verzona were re-elected.

Montauk voters said yes to the district’s $20.9 million budget, with 86 percent of 577 voters saying yes. Incumbent school board member Diane Hausman was re-elected, running unopposed.

In Tuckahoe, the $22.1 million budget was approved by 62.7 percent of 442 votes cast. Incumbent school board member Bob Grisnik was re-elected, running unopposed.

Westhampton Beach voters approved their $59 million budget by 74.7 percent of 1,241 votes cast. Suzanne Mensch and Joyce Donneson were elected to the school board, running unopposed.

In Quogue, 84.5 percent of 349 voters said yes to the $9.2 million school budget and re-elected incumbent board member Malcolm McClean, who was running unopposed. Voters also said yes to the Quogue Library’s budget.

East Quogue voters passed a $26.3 million budget with 76.4 percent of 1,409 votes cast. Kristin Jankowski and Kristina LoRusso were elected to the school board, defeating Joseph Sanicola.

The tiny Wainscott and Sagaponack school districts also passed by wide margins. Wainscott’s $3.7 million budget was approved by 67 percent of the 109 voters, with board president David Eagan winning re-election, running unopposed. In Sagaponack, the $1.7 million budget passed with 95 percent of the 111 voters saying yes. Thomas Schultz was elected to the school board, running unopposed.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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