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Sound Bites: Long Island school districts to vote on proposed budgets

Riverhead Middle School
Tu Prensa Local
Riverhead Middle School

Good morning. Long Island school budgets may soon increase by more than 4% for the 2024-2025 school year. That’s if the proposed budgets are voted through on Tuesday. If approved, school property taxes would increase by more than 2%. Schools across the island hope to use the increased budget to expand K-12 classroom programs. Despite this potential budget increase, most schools will lose federal COVID-19 pandemic relief money by September. 

Several Long Island school districts plan to lay off employees amid the cutoff of federal pandemic aid. District officials in Amityville plan to lay off 47 teachers and other staff. Riverhead plans to cut 51 positions after losing $20 million in federal grants. Six school districts' budget proposals hope to override New York’s cap limits on property taxes to generate more revenue for school programs and staff salaries.  

Here’s a bite-sized look at what else we are hearing:

New York State police execute search warrant at home of alleged Long Island serial killer. Rex Heuermann of Massapequa Park pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of four women. The Suffolk County District Attorney's office would not comment on what investigators are looking for. Police previously searched the home and backyard for several days last summer after Heuermann's arrest.

Connecticut state senator allegedly threatened by a member of Mexican cartel. Herron Gaston was at Milford’s Mexico Tipico restaurant when an employee, Yaridia Balfour, told him she was part of the cartel, and said, “You better be careful.” Balfour denied the accusation, but was arrested for disorderly conduct last Monday. She will appear in court on June 11. Gaston represents Bridgeport and Stratford.

Nearly 200,000 Connecticut residents could lose internet connectivity. The federal Affordable Connectivity Program was designed to help low-income households with monthly internet bills amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will lose funds by the end of May, but it could continue if Congress passes an extension. Many enrollees say they fear they could lose jobs and access to health care if the program is not continued.

Connecticut looks to crack down on loud vehicles. Legislation passed last week will allow local police to use new technology to find noisy cars and ticket drivers. The cameras are designed to catch vehicles emitting sounds over 80 decibels, and fine them fees up to $250. Lawmakers hope this will prevent drivers from using deafening exhaust pipes and blaring stereos that disturb nearby residents.

Puerto Rican residents in Connecticut earn significantly less than others. A University of Connecticut study found that, on average, they earned only $43,000 annually, almost half of the average income of the state’s general population. About a fifth of Puerto Ricans in the state live in poverty. They make up the majority of employees in state education, transportation, and retail jobs.

Bridgeport’s PorchFest music festival has a new organizer. The nonprofit Park City Presents teaches music education programs, and hosts live concerts for the city. It helped put together last year’s PorchFest. The eighth annual PorchFest in Black Rock will run Saturday, Aug. 24, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., and will feature over 50 local bands.

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Eric Warner is a news fellow at WSHU.