NORWICH – Following a decision made by the DCMO BOCES board of education to suspend a preschool special education program offered since 1992, the Child Development Council of Broome County (CDC) announced it will expand its services to the Norwich BOCES campus during the 2012-2013 school year.
Much like the current BOCES program, CDC plans to offer two 150 minute-long sessions during the day for special education preschool students. Additionally, CDC will offer two 210 minute sessions for needier students – an option that hasn’t been available with the BOCES program. Special needs preschoolers will be evaluated by their respective school districts to determine which course they should be enrolled in.
But longer class times and potentially higher tuition rates proposed by CDC are alarming county officials. Tuition and transportation rates are approved by the New York State Department of Education while county taxpayers are responsible to pay.
It’s unsure whether or not the state education department will approve an increase in rates for the CDC program, but if rates are raised, county officials estimate that costs could increase by as much as $35,000-$45,000 for the school year, which they say would exceed the two percent tax cap.
Several students in the BOCES preschool special education program require occupational and speech therapies that takes away from time spent in a classroom setting, said Patti Gallaher, BOCES director of special education.
“Those students would benefit from a longer program, but it’s also important to maintain the current option,” Gallaher said. “I think the state education department has made efforts to assess the needs before moving forward ... at this point, it’s still in review.”..