This school budget season has been especially difficult for many school districts across Long Island as financial struggles coupled with a new tax levy cap have forced local districts to make tough decisions.
The threat of cuts to programs and faculty is very real, and for some districts a fact. In Miller Place, the threat of massive cuts to clubs and athletics was put forth early in the budget season. While the clubs and sports were ultimately saved, residents aren't happy that these threats seem to come yearly now.
"I don't have kids in the school but I voted for the budget," said Joe Clampett. "It's a good school district, but one thing I don't like is, each year the threat of not having services. That makes me uncomfortable, and then at the last minute we're going to save [programs]. I dont like that battle back and forth."
Juan Mestres, a parent in the district, found it hard to keep up with the budget process but wanted to make sure he did what would benefit his kids the most.
"The school always seems to find ways to find money," Mestres said. "I've been to the meetings, it's very difficult to understand, but I have kids in the school and I have to do what's best for them."
While Miller Place is dealing with cuts, including over 16 faculty reductions, the district is not exceeding the tax levy cap. It's a different story in Rocky Point, where the proposed budget has no cuts, but a tax levy increase of 3.2 percent which exceeds the cap of 1.84 the district faces.
"I think they should just keep it within the cap, I don't understand why two percent isn't good enough," said resident Jeff Greene. "Everybody else is cutting. School budgets go up every year without fail, it can't continue like it is."
After voting on the budget, Angel Demmer said she is fine with the district going slightly over the cap as long as the children don't suffer.
"I understand teachers benefits and thinks like that are driving the budget, those are contractual obligations that we're not voting on, to penalize the kids educationally or with activities doesn't make sense," Demmer said. "I'm fine with [going over the cap]. The little bit they went over is not extraordinary."
If Rocky Point's budget does not pass with a 60 percent supermajority, the district will need to propose a new budget that does not exceed the tax levy cap of 1.84 percent. The district forecasted that a budget at the cap would include cuts to teachers, clubs and the Kindergarten program.
Polls close at 9 p.m. Stay with Patch throughout the night for up-to-the-minute budget results from Miller Place, Rocky Point, Mount Sinai and Shoreham-Wading River school districts.