For Immediate Release – December 12, 2012
Office of the Governor
Contact: Jeff Caldwell
Phone: (804) 225-4260
Virginia Department of Education
Contact: Charles B. Pyle
Phone: (804) 371-2420
Governor Bob McDonnell Proposes Budget Amendment to Provide State Support for Teachers, Aides and Staff for Blind or Visually Impaired Students
RICHMOND – Governor Bob McDonnell’s biennial budget amendments will include an additional $4.9 million to support localities in covering the costs of teachers, teacher’s aides and staff for blind or visually impaired students as recommended by the Virginia Board of Education. The proposed amendment lifts an unfunded mandate by providing financial relief to local school districts across the Commonwealth that are tasked with providing specialized staff for Virginia’s more than 1,000 blind or visually impaired students. Of the 17 special education disability designations recognized in Virginia, blind or visually impaired is the only one that is not currently funded by the Commonwealth.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McDonnell said, “Funding the blind or visually impaired staffing standards is an important step to continue ensuring that every child, regardless of their particular situation, has access to a quality education. Virginia is home to so many exceptional teachers and administrators. By taking this step, we are continuing to help ensure that blind and visually impaired students get the world class educations they deserve. Providing these state resources to schools will continue to ensure educational opportunities for blind or visually impaired children, lighten local budgets constraints, and strengthen communities.”
"Students across Virginia who are blind or visually impaired owe thanks to Governor McDonnell for taking this long overdue step," said Delegate Bob Brink (D-Arlington/McLean). "Providing state funding for special education teachers who work with these students will help give them the tools they need to become productive, fully participating members of the community."
The Virginia Board of Education has recommended funding standards for staffing blind or visually impaired students; however, students indentified as blind or visually impaired in the Special Education Child Count are currently not included in the Standards of Quality (SOQ) funding model used to determine special education funding. The proposed budget amendment, which will be partially offset by $0.5 million currently included in the budget for the Department of Blind and Vision Impaired, will ensure that localities receive the necessary funding.