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Advocates call on Hochul to sign bill to better fund schools that work with the disabled

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Ellen Abbott
/
WRVO News
State Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-N. Syracuse), center, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie at the Main Street School in North Syracuse

Advocates are hoping Gov. Kathy Hochul signs a bill that brings funding for the North Syracuse Early Education Program in line with other public schools. The Main St. School is part of series of special schools across the state referred to as “4,000 schools.” In this case, disabled and non-disabled pre-school kids play and learn in the same classroom, with extra services for special needs students.

"I can get 2,000 families to write letters of support for Main Street School about amazing changes in their kids from when they first entered here, and weren’t speaking and weren’t looking at anybody and had all sorts of problems, and when they left and entered kindergarten on a regular track,” said Assemblyman Al Stirpe (D-N. Syracuse).

The problem is, schools like this don’t get the same funding increases from New York as public schools. Stirpe said there’s a bill on the governor’s desk that would allow schools to get same funding increases as public schools. And he’s got the support of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

"The bill we passed about giving equity, passed unanimously,” Heastie said. “So that goes to show that people believe in the work of the 4000 schools."

Stirpe said the legislation needs to move ahead soon, because many of the handful of these schools left in central New York are in danger.

"All these schools have a little bit of reserve left, but at the rate they are spending down the reserve, they would only be in business for another year or so,” he said.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.