Teachers and student smiling in classroom.

DDI Staff and Students Visit with Senator Monica Martinez

The purpose of the visit was to thank the senator for supporting our schools and for including tuition recommendations for our preschool special education programs (4410) and school-age programs (853).

It was also important to voice concerns related to the significant difference in education funding that our schools have received compared to local school districts. Because our schools cannot pay salaries that are competitive with public schools, we face challenges in recruiting and retaining certified teachers.

Pic of students

Two members of the CDP team shared their passion for the work that they and their colleagues perform on a daily basis and how personally invested they are in each student. They also spoke of the difficulties they face with vacancy and turnover rates. Much time and care are spent training new staff members only to have them leave for higher paying jobs in the public school sector. In addition, the children form bonds with their teaching staff and when a person from their team leaves, it can be confusing for them and disruptive to their schedules.

The students in attendance from CDP wanted to be involved in the discussion as well and shared information about themselves and the program they attend. Christopher expertly used his speech device to communicate with the group, and Elisabeth highlighted her morning activities, which included a game of basketball and kickball at gym class – all accomplished before 10:15 AM.

The completion of these activities would not be possible without the support of a dedicated workforce. Children who attend our schools are referred to us because the public school district does not have the expertise needed to educate them. The funding disparities that currently exist threaten the ability of our programs to deliver the services our students rightfully deserve.

Sen. Martinez and Ms. Routh shared our concerns and agreed to write a letter of support to their leadership to advocate with the Governor and the New York State Division of the Budget to support the increases the State Education Department recommends for our schools.