September 17, 2009

Last minute veto derails bill for SpecialAct/853 Schools

Source: NYSUT News Wire

NYSUT is registering its "extreme disappointment" that once again Special Act and 853 Schools have been denied the financial capacity and flexibility they need to support some of the state's most needy students. Late last night, Gov. Paterson vetoed the Tuition Reimbursement Flexibility bill (S. 5546/A. 8245), which would have allowed the schools to maintain a 4 percent fund balance from year to year; public schools already have this capability.

"We are extremely disappointed that the governor vetoed a bill that would have saved money, promoted smart budgeting and strengthened schools' abilities to serve students in need," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan Lubin. "We really thought this would be the year to get this important bill passed."

NYSUT legislative staffers worked around the clock and stayed in constant contact with the governor's office, pressing for the bill's signing, but a last-minute veto derailed the effort. "It's back to the drawing board, and unfortunately these schools will continue working under an outdated funding methodology that really cannot meet their needs- or the needs of their students," Lubin said. A network of 13 Special Act schools and about 120 "853 Schools" serves those students whose needs cannot be met at regular public schools, including many students with mental, emotional or physical disabilities. The bill would allow the schools to maintain a fund balance to help pay for unexpected expenses or delays in state reimbursement, and better plan for the future. The veto now will cost money for schools that too often must borrow to cover delays in reimbursement, Lubin noted.

NYSUT will continue to lobby for the resources and flexibility Special Act and 853 Schools need in their important work of supporting students who are severely disabled and those who have faced abuse, neglect or have had dealings with the criminal justice system.