Albany visits by deaf, blind and severely disabled students focus on funding parity.

Students and administrators from the 11-member association representing deaf, blind and severely disabled students are gathering in Albany today to raise awareness among members of the Legislature and encourage funding parity in the state budget, now and into the future.

The proposed executive budget recommends funding that would place them on par with increases provided to public school districts. Across the state, parents and educators are partnering to encourage that the funding parity continue.PAR3

“We are grateful that Governor Cuomo has made a recommendation that will benefit our students,” said Dr. Bernadette Kappen, 4201 Schools Association chairwoman and executive director of The New York Institute for Special Education in the Bronx. “As the Legislature begins working on the details regarding state education funding, we will encourage them to be guided by the notion of funding parity across the board. Their commitment will ensure ongoing student achievement stemming from programs based on individualized attention in a specialized setting.

The association also is requesting a one-time investment for improvements in aging infrastructure to enhance student safety, improve efficiency and reduce operational costs.

“Many of the students we serve have unique sensory disabilities,” said Tim Kelly, vice chairman of the association and superintendent of St. Mary’s School for the Deaf in Buffalo. “We can improve upon the safety of the entire community by ensuring critical notification systems are in place to alert students of an emergency – and it starts with messages being seen, heard and understood.”

The 4201 Schools Association represents 11 private, state-supported schools that serve blind, deaf or severely physically disabled students. The “4201 schools” are so known because of the section of New York State Education Law (§4201) that grants their funding. Students in 4201 schools receive a quality education in a supportive and challenging setting from teachers and staff with specialized training and experience. Students develop emotional, social and cognitive abilities that are crucial to their success. The schools also provide extracurricular activities, leadership opportunities and mentoring.