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Governor's budget puts St. Mary's School for the Deaf in jeopardy

By Joyce Kryszak

Buffalo, NY – A proposal in Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget could put Saint Mary's School for the Deaf and other New York 4201 schools (schools for the deaf, blind and physically handicapped) in jeopardy.

Under the proposal, 4201 schools would lose $98 million of direct state aid. That's nearly all of their current total budget of $118 million. The money would be shifted to public school districts. It would then be up to the school districts to evaluate students with hearing impairments and decide whether or not to refer them to St. Mary's.

Many of these students could be mainstreamed in regular classes instead. St. Mary's School Superintendent Tim Kelly says that's not the best option.

"Some districts have the built-in support for such students," Kelly said. "But obviously, we feel they don't have what we have here -- a parent network, after-school program and tutoring. We have many supports so that the students' needs can be met."

Kelly says a rally to support 4201 schools is planned for March 10th in Albany. He says they hope to find a compromise.