The Governor’s Executive Budget does not provide for increased support for 4201 Schools. We have been flat funded for the past 7 years.
On Monday, February 23, Assemblymembers Shelly Mayer, Gary Pretlow, Tom Abinatti, Sandy Galef, Amy Paulin, Dave Buchwald, and Steve Otis hosted a forum that was focused on Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget. NYSD’s presence at these forums is critical as it is important that we continue to remind the Legislators, and the Governor, that we receive adequate support. As they move into budget negotiations, we must constantly remind them to provide us with a funding increase that is equal to 4.8% that public schools receive.
Here at Fanwood (NYSD’s nickname), we host an annual Legislative visit to the School so that Legislators have an opportunity to be here with the students, see them in their environment, see our teachers in action in the classroom, see our campus, and get to know us. We feel that these visits are far more personal and informative than meeting with the Legislators’ aides in Albany. We continue to go to Albany for the fact that it is important to be seen and to be a constant reminder that we are NOT going away.
It was great to see that all 7 Legislators at the hearing the Hearing already visited Fanwood more than once over the years. They all acknowledged us by name and seem to nod in agreement after the testimonies.
First, high school student, Agron D., testified; he told his story of coming to America with his family. He said he spoke not only for himself, but also for his fellow students. Agron said Fanwood meant a lot to all of our students, and shared that they want to stay here as opposed to being mainstreamed. He explained that NYSD students receive a great education and credited his teachers and family for his success as well as the hard work he does himself. He urged the legislators to treat our students just as his hearing peers are treated in public schools by giving us an equal budget increase. Agron spoke about his desire for Fanwood to be able to afford to have after school program and other beneficial “extras”. He “wants the teachers and staff to be paid well, and if our teachers are HAPPY, we will be HAPPY”.
Needless to say, Agron was amazing not only in his words but in his presentation. The Legislators and the audience were obviously as impressed with him.
Several other special interest groups testified and shortly after 4pm, Alexis Kashar, NYSD Board President, testified. She spoke about the needs of deaf students and the multitude of negative impacts we have had to face due to the budget cuts.
She thanked the Legislators for supporting the 4.8% increase for 4201 Schools and urged them to continue to work through the Legislative process to make it happen. She shared with them that she was a local resident and Attorney. Alexis quoted State and Federal laws about the rights of Deaf students, although we trust they were aware.
In her statement, Alexis reminded them that Fanwood has been educating students for almost 200 years and we cannot allow these cuts and flat funding to continue because it is affecting our programs, our students and our staff. Several of the Legislators expressed their appreciation and said they looked forward to following up with Alexis, Agron, and NYSD.
We have a lot to be proud of at Fanwood. Our next steps will be to convince the Governor. We will be sharing more about this process.