Wednesday, June 15, 2005

MR/DD Cincinnati Post Article About School Closing

Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Posted by Labeled Disabled at 7:28 AM 0 comments
Monday, June 13, 2005

MRDD Closing Public School in Cincinnati
MR/DD closing public schoolBy Troy LylePost staff reporter

In a cost-cutting move, Breyer School will close in the fall of 2006, the Hamilton County Board of Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities MR/dd announced Tuesday.The decision to close one of three public schools serving students with mental retardation and developmental disabilities was based on the recommendation of Maximus Consulting, a Columbus auditor hired by the Hamilton County Commission to identify ways the county could save money.The consultants concluded that it was too expensive to operate all three schools. The other two schools are Rost School in Green Township and Fairfax School."It's hard to move forward and make a decision like this," said Shelley F. Goering, newly elected president of the Hamilton County Board of MR/DD. "We took our time, we looked at all the factors and we made every effort to come to the best possible decision."Breyer, in New Burlington, was targeted, among other reasons, because its enrollment is declining, its building is the oldest of the three schools and it will be easier to transport its students to the other schools, the board said.Board members said closing Breyer would save about $903,000 annually.

Last year, the board asked the county commission put a five-year levy before voters that would bring in $381 million, but the commission approved just a $338.8 million levy. That led the board to terminate its preschool program in May and to go forward with plans to close a school.Parents worried that losing Breyer would exacerbate students' problems by increasing travel time and placing them in unfamiliar surroundings.Goering said the board is doing everything it can to make sure that won't be the case.Students at Breyer will undergo individual evaluations over the next year to determine whether Rost or Fairfax is best for them, she said.But Elise Fessler, a resident of Finneytown and mother of a student at Breyer, said that will be too little too late."I would love to have fought the battle I fought for the last two months, for the last year," she said, referring to a lack of communication between the board, schools and parents.Fessler said her main concern is "the loss of opportunities associated with a massive increase in student populations."There's the likelihood of more crowded classrooms and loss of specialized rooms for art, music, sensory and life skills classes, she said."These spaces and rooms are absolutely essential to our kids," said Fessler.

She wasn't alone in her frustration."My question is who's in charge of my daughter's education?" asked Donna Saul, of Springfield Township, another Breyer parent."They're bartering our kids' futures away. The parents and schools should be making these decisions, not boards and commissions."Board chair Cheryl Phipps said despite the concerns about Breyer, no staff would be laid off and no students would go unserved.But Saul said that simply wouldn't be the case."There's no doubt some kids will be lost in the process," she said.

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