Advocates for Disabled Children Seeking 4.8 Percent for 4201 Schools

February 3, 2015 – Officials from the 11-member association representing deaf, blind and severely disabled students testified today at the education budget hearing in Albany requesting 4.8 percent increase in state funding for their schools. The request parallels the percentage increase Gov. Cuomo has recommended for public school districts across New York in the proposed 2015-16 executive budget.

“The voices of the children we serve may be modest, but their need is great and no less deserving than that of any other child. In fact, their achievements are significant and cause for celebration,” said Dr. Bernadette Kappen, executive director of the New York Institute for Special Education in the Bronx.

In order to continue to provide for the students we serve – we ask for a 4.8-percent increase for the 4201 schools for its achievement-oriented, year-round programs, such as: deaf infant, regional residential, 10-month education and summer sessions.”

The 4201 Schools Association has not had a funding increase in six years. In fact, in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11 the schools saw a reduction in state aid, and then funding was held to zero percent growth over the ensuing years.

In response to the diminished resources, the 4201 schools have worked hard to reduce costs and find efficiencies. Since 2008, our member schools have maintained their programing for more than 1500 students while reducing payroll nearly 11 percent (or approximately $9 million), all while state funding for their students has been reduced by 4 percent ($5.4 million).
A 4.8-percent increase for 4201 schools would equal approximately $6.35 million out of $1.1 billion proposed state education funding increase.

The 4201 schools serve students with “low-incidence” disabilities. Low incidence disabilities are blindness, low vision, deafness, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blindness, significant developmental delays, complex health issues, serious physical impairment and multiple disabilities. Many of these students require the type of specialized care that their local districts could not provide. And the 4201 schools have records of success educating their students.

“We help our students achieve a high level of success and the numbers demonstrate that success,” said Timothy Kelly, Superintendent of St. Mary’s School of the Deaf in Buffalo.

4201 Schools record of achievement:
• Average daily attendance rate of 85-95 percent
• Nearly 100 percent graduation rate
• Common core-aligned curricula