Support Schools that Serve Students with Intense Needs
As a constituent, I urge you to advocate for the enactment of provisions in this budget to provide an annual increase to the school aid adjustment for institutions serving pre-school-age and school-age children with disabilities, and ensures educational funding parity with the school aid increases provided to traditional public schools. I would also ask that you include capital funding for critical building and health and safety needs in our special schools.
In providing a "free appropriate public education" to all students, New York invests in a diverse array of programs designed to meet the unique educational needs of the state's most vulnerable, traumatized, disabled and marginalized youth. These schools provide education and related services to school-age students who, for many reasons, are unable to be served by either the local public schools or BOCES. These schools were specifically created to meet the intense needs of students placed by the juvenile justice, child welfare, mental health, developmental disabilities and special education systems. This vital continuum provides students with disabilities or with severe behavioral, emotional, educational or physical challenges, both day and residential options to meet their individual educational and therapeutic needs.
The many years of stagnant funding and increased costs endanger the future of Special Act schools, 853 Schools, 4201 Schools that serve the blind and deaf and 4410 Pre-Schools. The chronic underfunding of these programs has negatively impacted the education, enrichment and opportunity for these children. Several Special Act School Districts have been forced to close and others are facing dire financial situations. These schools have been forced to rely on short-term borrowing until reimbursement is made.
Funding for these programs should be increased to support the actual needs of the students. These schools are funded entirely through a rate-setting process rather than school aid formulas and local tax levies.
The state needs these schools and should ensure that they receive adequate funding increases so they can both educate our children and better plan and prepare for the future without the worry of financial insolvency.
In order to implement lasting reform, I ask that the Legislature enact provisions in this budget to create educational funding parity with school aid and educational and enrichment for students at 4201 Schools, 853 Schools, Special Act schools and 4410 Pre-Schools. I would also ask that you provide much needed capital funding for these entities in the enacted budget.
Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. I respectfully ask that you bring up this issue with your conference. I look forward to a reply to my letter.
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