CHEEKTOWAGA, NY (WKBW) – The Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York (DDAWNY) and a coalition of special education schools held a rally in Cheektowaga on Friday to demand equity in funding.
The New York State budget provides for a 7% increase in the Foundation’s aid rate for public schools, however, it only provides for a 4% increase for schools that provide special education to children. having developmental disabilities.
School leaders, teachers and special education families gathered at Aspire of WNY to demand fair and equal funding for children with special needs.
Students of all ages, and with a variety of developmental disabilities, want the state’s budget department to hear their rallying cry for equal funding in their special education schools.
“This lack of equity in funding schools for children with disabilities is simply unacceptable and it is wrong,” said Douglas DiGesare, CEO of Arc Erie County New York.
Teachers and families were their voices, speaking on their behalf.
They say that without a full 7% funding increase, special education schools, such as Aspire, Autism Services, Bornhava, Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Cantalician Center for Learning, CHC Learning Center, Gateway Longview, OLV Human Services , The Summit Center, We Can Preschool & Childcare, The Children’s League and Arc of Erie County New York, cannot offer competitive salaries to teachers and staff and this causes huge turnover in classrooms, which undermines the student development.
“Our students at Cantalician see at least one new staff member in their class every three months – that’s unacceptable,” said
Christman says it’s heartbreaking to see employees come and go because of the low wages.
“Why does the New York State Budget Department treat my colleagues and I differently from a teacher in a public school,” Christman asked.
Families say the special education school, known as 853 and 4410 schools, should receive the same amount of State Foundation assistance provided to public schools.
“I want Evan to be happy every day. I want him to be clean every day. I want him to have every chance to learn. Because one day he might get something more,” Kerry Preston, grandmother.
“This budget shouldn’t even be a discussion – that’s my feeling about it. We shouldn’t even have to be here today, ”noted Jamillah Davis, Cantalician parent.
Davis’s son, Douglas, 18, attends Cantalician.
Davis says the number of children with developmental disabilities is increasing, not decreasing. She credits Cantalician for their work as a “support team” and says they are like family to her.
State Assembly woman Monica Wallace appeared at Friday’s rally in support of schools and families.
“To put them on par with all the other kids in New York State,” Wallace noted.
Wallace says that “the money is there” and that in the past it was comparable to funding public schools.
“What are the odds of getting this equal funding for special education schools? Buckley asked.
“I’m going to do whatever I can to encourage them to review this and if they don’t, I’ll enforce legislation to fix it,” Wallace replied.
And in case the state budget department needed more conviction, student Aspire James Parisi, 3, who suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy, was all excited in his special motorized chair with his microphone. handmade toy to help spread the world.
His father, Anthony Parisi, says that with a lack of funding, it is difficult for the school to maintain services specifically designed to help children like his son.
“Any change in the level of resources – the level of staff and services they receive can have a detrimental effect on them,” Parisi explained.
The State Budget Department released the following statement in response to our request for comment:
“This administration has worked to ensure that all New York City students have the resources they need and has increased funding for special education providers by approximately $ 300 million over the past decade. The state continues these investments with an increase of $ 85 million in provider funding, or 4% – tied for the largest increase in reimbursement rate in more than 20 years – and providers do not face the same costs than school districts, such as transportation. . Meanwhile, the state is also taking steps to mitigate potential revenue losses for these providers that would otherwise result from the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school year enrollment declines related to the pandemic. “
New York State Budget Division