September 18, 2009

Veto of bill to help Special Act schools extremely disappointing

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. September 18, 2009 - New York State United Teachers today criticized a veto of legislation that would have given added flexibility in budgeting to special schools serving students with mental, emotional and physical disabilities.

Gov. David Paterson vetoed the Tuition Reimbursement Flexibility bill (S.5546/A.8245), which would have allowed Special Act and so-called 853 schools to maintain a 4 percent fund balance year-to-year, just like traditional public schools.

NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi said the legislation, vetoed late Wednesday, would have saved money, promoted smart budgeting and strengthened schools' ability to serve students in need.

"The governor's veto will cost these schools -- which serve students whose needs cannot be met at regular public schools -- additional money because, without the ability to carry a fund balance, they must borrow to pay bills when reimbursement payments are late," said NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin.

"This is a bitter pill for these specialized schools which must continue to work without the budget flexibility they need to meet their own needs and the needs of their students," Lubin said. "It is extremely disappointing that the governor, who has worked his entire career on behalf of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, would veto such a reasonable bill."

He added the state's 13 Special Act Schools and about 120 "853 schools" should be permitted to maintain a fund balance to help pay for unexpected costs or delays in state reimbursement.

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

NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents more than 600,000 teachers, school-related professionals, academic and professional faculty in higher education, professionals in education and health care and retirees. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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