Dear [Decision Maker],
Perkins School for the Blind, currently in its 180th year of service, provides education and a wide variety of related services to students with disabilities on campus across the Commonwealth and beyond. The school's program is approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education under special education laws, Chapter 766.
Due to the financial regulations of the Commonwealth, Perkins and other special education private schools have a difficult time providing an equal education to our most exceptional students. The current economic climate has only increased our financial difficulties. Our strongest challenges are to hire and retain licensed teachers and staff and to have the educational resources needed to meet education standards. Our teachers, clinicians and other educational staff are under paid and work eleven months of the year. Without the cost inflation increases in tuition, the financial gap and the service gap will broaden between providing students with disabilities an equal education compared to their regular education counterparts.
Due to the enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA the federal stimulus package), Massachusetts will receive more than enough funding to pay for the cost of the 3.37% cost inflation rate on Chapter 766 schools' tuitions. ARRA provides nearly $1.5 billion in education funding increases. If the tuition rate freeze remains, Perkins and other special education schools stand to lose $26.7 million in inflation adjustment revenue while public schools gain hundreds of millions in federal funding. This loss includes:
- $16.5 million in-state revenue
- $5.5 million in out-of-state tuition revenue
- $4.7 million in other rate adjustments
Please ask Ways & Means Committee to adopt the attached budget language provides for the 3.37% inflation increase and allows special education schools to keep up with student needs.
As a Massachusetts resident, I am truly sensitive to the state's budget deficit. However it should not be at the cost of students who are blind or with other challenges. On behalf of the Perkins community and other special education schools across the Commonwealth, thank you for considering my request.
I hope that you will support Chapter 766 schools and the exceptional students that Perkins and the other schools educate daily. It would be a pleasure to talking with you if you have questions or would like further information.
For your reference, I am including OSD Appropriation Account 1775-0100 Proposed Budget Language at http://support.perkins.org/OSDlanguage.
[City, State ZIP]