Today, the ARISE Coalition is testifying before the City Council Committee on Education about the importance of improving the school transportation system and in support of a bill to provide real-time GPS bus location data to parents. Our testimony [PDF] highlights some of the trends Coalition members have seen that make this system so problematic for individual families and their children with disabilities.
Members of the ARISE Coalition and Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE) sent a letter [PDF] to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking that the City include a major investment in the FY 2020-2024 School Construction Authority Five-Year Capital Plan to make at least one-third of schools accessible to students, parents, and teachers with physical disabilities. Currently, only one out of every five City schools is fully accessible; as a result, students with physical disabilities find themselves automatically shut out of the majority of schools because of architectural barriers.
We estimate that reaching this target would require an additional $750 million over five years. While we would like to see the school system fully accessible to individuals with physical disabilities, this funding would go a long way toward integrating students with physical needs into NYC’s schools and would have a significant impact on their lives.
Members of ARISE and PIE call for increased funding for school accessibility in the 2019 City budget
On May 15, members of the ARISE Coalition and Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE) wrote to Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Council, urging them to ensure that the final FY 2019 budget includes the City Council’s recommendation for an additional $125 million for school accessibility projects.
The 2015-2019 Capital Plan allocates only $100 million over five years for improving school accessibility and $28 million for ensuring that a number of schools can serve as accessible emergency shelters. Together, that represents less than one percent of the total funding in the Plan. Furthermore, the City has already spent the vast majority of this funding, leaving little, if any, funding for accessibility projects in the coming year. New York City cannot be the "fairest big city in America" until students, families, and teachers with physical disabilities have equitable access to the City’s schools.
Several members of the ARISE Coalition sent a letter today to key state legislators urging them to ensure that the final state budget for this year does not include the Executive Budget proposal to reduce funding for summer special education programs. The letter laid out our concerns [PDF] that reducing the State contribution for these important programs would be very burdensome to school districts and would put children’s summer services at risk by serving as a disincentive to including 12-month services in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) despite the demonstrated need for these services. Those signing the letter specifically urged the State to reject the proposal.