State lawmakers on Thursay urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill meant to expand and strengthen programs that serve children with disabilities.

The bill would affect pre-school to school-age children and is meant to provide fair and equitable funding linked to the aid that is given to public schools. 

“Children with special needs are as valuable and as deserving of dignity and respect as all New Yorkers and state policy and state funding needs to reflect that,” said Sen. John Mannion, a Democrat from the Syracuse area who sponsored the bill.

“Every child in New York State is guaranteed a sound basic education under the law and it's up to all of us to deliver it. A sound basic education can only be achieved for these students if they have the proper supports and their schools are funded at the same rate as other public schools.” 

Advocates for these programs have pointed to a lack of funding, which has led to closures, disruptions and limited services for students with disabilities across the state. Current programming would be kept in place and the reinstatement of programming in underserved communities would be possible. 

The measure was approved earlier this year by a unanimous vote in both chambers.

“Schools like the Main Street School provide a critical service for individuals and families across the state. As a parent who had kids attend Main Street, I know the importance of SCIS and other 4410 schools,” said Assemblyman Al Stirpe.

“But, unlike other educational facilities, the state funding for these schools uses an outdated formula, which includes a cumbersome appeals process that can take years to resolve. Meaning, many of these 4410 schools are years behind others in funding and lack the resources to offer state mandated services to their students. This legislation will put these community assets on par with their peer institutions and make sure all have the funding needed to play an essential role in the public education system.”