More than 60 students, staff and leaders from nine specialized schools serving students with various disabilities arrived at the Capitol today to meet with members of the Legislature and make their case for essential funding in the 2018-19 state budget.

The 4201 Schools provide a focused learning experience for students who are deaf, blind and severely physically disabled. These private, state-supported schools rely on state funding in order to provide students with the tools needed to achieve academic, physical, and social success- leading to a lifetime of independence and purpose.

The Association has advanced three main goals (#EasyAs123) for the Legislature to consider this budget session. The first, and perhaps most important, is to ensure parity funding with the state’s public schools. A direct increase in funding will support 4201 school operations and ensure that local school districts are not adversely impacted.

“Parity funding would help enhance the effectiveness of our teachers and improve the retention rate for highly qualified staff,” explained Dr. Bernadette Kappen, Chair of the 4201 Schools Association and Executive Director of the New York Institute for Special Education.

The Association is also recommending $5 million for short-term maintenance projects that most schools have deferred in order to concentrate on more immediate needs for their students. Most schools were established decades ago and are in need of repair, but some campuses date back centuries, making specific updates important to the day-to-day student experience.

Lastly, the Association requests the opportunity to engage existing Dormitory Authority authorization for another series of long-term capital projects that would improve the health and safety for all 4201 students and staff. These important projects involve the upgrade of major systems that serve academic buildings and residential dormitories and are simply too large to be addressed as day-to-day repair, they are capital investments.

“The health and safety of our students and staff is critical. An additional investment in 4201 Schools would allow us all to upgrade electrical services, plumbing, or lighting, update fire and safety equipment, or make classroom modifications to meet student needs,” said Dr. Kappen.