June 12, 2014

NYSUT advocacy for 853, Special Acts schools leads to rate increase; fight for funding continues

Source: NYSUT Media Relations

ALBANY, N.Y. June 12, 2014 — NYSUT today welcomed the much-needed increase in tuition rate reimbursements for schools that serve students with special needs, noting it resulted from tireless advocacy by union members. However, NYSUT leaders stressed that more needs to be done after years of flat funding.

This week the state announced a one-year, 3.8 percent reimbursement rate increase for 853 Schools and Special Act school districts. Special Act school districts are public school districts that partner with child care institutions to educate students with special physical, emotional or mental health needs. 853 Schools are operated by private agencies, approved by the State Education Department, that provide residential or day programs for students with disabilities.

"This is an important first step in a long battle to restore funding," said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee. "We must remember that prior to the 2013-14 school year’s 3 percent increase, these schools endured four years of flat funding, jeopardizing programs that are vital to some of the state’s most vulnerable students and their families. We will continue to press for the support they deserve."

NYSUT Executive Vice President Andrew Pallotta said the reimbursement increase was the result of the union’s relentless advocacy on behalf of the 853 and Special Act schools. But, he added, "We must secure long-term solutions. More resources are necessary to support these unique schools and the quality educators who provide essential special education services."

Pallotta said NYSUT continues to work toward an annual, guaranteed increase in tuition rates. He said NYSUT is working in partnership on this issue with the New York State School Boards Association, the New York State Association of School Business Officials, the New York State Council of School Superintendents, the New York State Parent Teacher Association and the School Administrators Association of New York State.

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.

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