“Blind, deaf and disabled students are some of the most vulnerable members of our society. Now is not the time to put them at an even greater disadvantage by eliminating all of the direct state aid for these historically state-supported schools for the blind and deaf, instead shifting these special education costs to local school districts. Doing so could disrupt the high-quality educational services these students have received for the last nearly 200 years in this state. It would also unfairly force the cost of operating these schools onto local property taxpayers, who will already be grappling with a reduction in school aid.
“Additionally the executive budget would reduce state aid for students in the Summer School Special Education program and eliminate the state’s share for maintenance costs for students placed in residential facilities.
“The Assembly has long advocated for those with special needs. That’s why I helped pass an Assembly budget that restores 92.7 percent in state fiscal year 2011-12 – or $86 million school year – to the Summer School Special Education program. In addition, our budget rejects shifting $90.8 million onto local school districts and taxpayers for special education needs of the blind and deaf. We also reject the $48 million cost shift that would force school districts to pay for the maintenance costs of room and board for students placed in in-state residential facilities.
“I’ll continue to fight for our most vulnerable students to make sure they are able to succeed in environments that encourage creativity, enthusiasm and hard work. And I’ll oppose attempts to place them at a greater disadvantage.”