Feb 28
"NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - Special education advocates are asking Governor Deval Patrick to reconsider a proposed spending cut that could affect private school programs. The Massachusetts Association of 766 Approved Private Schools, or MAAPS, held a legislative breakfast at the New Directions School in Northampton Monday morning. It was the fourth of six regional meetings hosted by the non-profit aimed at addressing statewide issues when it comes to private special education schools.  Its biggest challenge this year is funding, after the governor announced the special education budget for fiscal year 2013 will be level funded at $213 million, $17 million less than the adequate funding. Jim Major, the executive director of MAAPS, told 22News, “The problem is we can't pay competitive salaries for our teachers and our clinical staff.  So we have a very high turnover rate; on average our teachers make $25,000 less than public school teachers.” Dan Ingram, who testified about his daughter's success at the New Directions School said, “I think the message today is, there are a lot of kids with unique disabilities, that aren't defined on a chart or on a column.  Every kid is special and sometimes it just can't fit in a large regular school.” These private schools have a 218-day school year and the New Directions School in Northampton has a class of 30 special needs students,  with 22 of them living on campus. Major told 22news 72 percent of MAAPS schools operate at a deficit.  "In fiscal year 2010 there was a deficit of over $30 million dollars," said Major, who two weeks ago met with nearly 30 Beacon Hill legislators with hopes the non-profit's message will reach both the House and Senate floors.   MAAPS faced the same funding problem this fiscal year and to offset the costs, schools like the New Directions, started raising funds in the private sector.  Its Adopt-a-Room program lets businesses and individuals, through a donation, adopt rooms in their schools and provide supplies. Representative John Scibak of the 2nd Hampshire District was one of the legislators in attendance." View the article.