As a constituent who cares deeply about the education and resources provided to both pre-school-age and school-age children with a variety of intense needs, I urge you to ensure that Special Act Schools, 853 Schools and 4410 Programs receive a rate increase of at least eleven percent, and can effectively use it, by pausing the rate reconciliation process for the 2022-23 school year, as the governor has publicly committed to, so that schools may responsibly use this increase to the fullest extent possible.
I also ask the Legislature to once again advance a rate parity bill similar to S.6516-A (Mannion)/A.8013 (Benedetto) of 2021. This legislation would have ensured that the rate for pre-school and school-aged special education providers, and other special education services, were indexed to the support provided to traditional neighborhood schools. The enactment of this legislation would have helped to provide children with intense and complex needs with the education and services they need to thrive.
Special Act Schools, 853 Schools and 4410 Programs serve the neediest students who require services and supports that are not offered by traditional public schools. These schools and programs, and the children they serve, should not be treated any differently than students who attend our neighborhood public schools. These schools also provide a continuum of care and stability for the students who attend them.
I would also ask the state to create a taskforce, which includes NYSUT representation, to revise the current, outdated and un-workable rate methodology for these schools. The existing methodology often results in financial instability, claw-backs and a lack of services for students. These factors hinder the ability of these schools and programs to recruit and retain dedicated professionals and endangers the educational setting these school communities provide. Ensuring that students who attend special education schools/programs, or require additional services, have the educational settings and supports to help them flourish should not be a financial decision.
Providing funding parity for these schools and programs, ensuring that schools are able to effectively use this funding and establishing a taskforce leading to a new rate methodology will allow these schools to educate our children and better plan and prepare for the future without the worry of financial insolvency.
Thank you for your consideration of this very important issue, I respectfully ask that you bring up this issue with your conference and I would greatly appreciate a response to this email.
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