Cleary School for the Deaf forced to freeze enrollment

The Cleary School for the Deaf, a day school program in Nesconset, Long Island, New York has started an online petition to try and bring attention to what they say is inadequate funding from the state government that has forced them to freeze enrollment with 20 students on the waitlist.

Over 4,600 people have signed the petition.

High school teacher Katie Apicella told “The Daily Moth” that they currently have 89 students but only get government funding for 66 students. She explained that the funding was based on census data from 2009 and 2011.

“In 2009/2011, census data for our school showed 66 students. At that time, NYS set a new funding formula for all NYS 4201 schools (a school that educates students like ours). The funding methodology was set based on our enrollment at that time. That became our Certificate of Approval. We are hoping this methodology will be reconsidered and our Certificate of Approval can be updated since our enrollment has grown and continues to grow because families across Long Island recognize the benefit of the programs we offer to our students.”

Cleary’s leaders hope to get New York state legislators to fund the school according to the amount of students they have. There is only a week left in the 2019 legislative session.

I asked Apicella about Lexington School for the Deaf in Queens and if that was a good option for students in the area. She said it is more than an hour away from most of their students, which would require very long bus rides and explained that this would cause students to miss out on educational support services before and after school.

The petition website says Cleary has been there since 1925 and warned that if they don’t get more funding, they might have to make program cuts or reduce current enrollment.

The school uses a variety of educational approaches that range from spoken English to American Sign Language.

The link to the petition and additional information is below in the transcript.