Center to end its services for disabled children in Fulton, Montgomery counties
Updated 10:17 p.m.
AMSTERDAM Financial pressure is forcing the Center for Disability Services to shut down universal pre-kindergarten and early intervention programs for disabled children in Fulton and Montgomery counties in June.
The closure of three sites effective June 21 will eliminate 47 jobs and force dozens of families to seek other educational resources for their children.
A total of 95 students up to age 5 are currently served by educational offerings that include full- and half-day integrated classes and self-contained classes in schools in Gloversville and Amsterdam, according to the Center for Disability Services.
All but about 37 current students will be heading into regular classrooms this fall, and the center intends to reach out to school district special education committees to help families find other options for those remaining children, according to a news release issued Thursday by the center.
The Fulton-Montgomery CloverPatch Early Childhood Program at St. Mary’s Institute in Amsterdam will lose 37 positions. CloverPatch Early Childhood provides evaluation and intervention, preschool classes and afterschool programs for children with special needs.
A total of 10 jobs will be lost by closing programs at the Meco and Boulevard elementary schools in Gloversville, according to a notification issued by the center to the state Department of Labor on Tuesday. Four positions will be lost at the Meco school and six at the Boulevard building.
Center spokeswoman Anne Schneider-Costigan said the June 21 closure is being prompted by several years of cuts in state and county funding for the program, causing a $5 million deficit to accrue.
“Unfortunately, funding does not match the cost of operating these programs,” she said in the news release.
Other vacant positions within the center may be available for employees whose jobs are being eliminated. Alternately, the center intends to work to help them find jobs with other service providers.
“This was a very, very difficult decision for us to make,” Schneider-Costigan said.
Programming for special-needs students in Fulton and Montgomery counties is just one facet of the work the Albany-based Center for Disability Services performs for roughly 15,000 people at 75 locations in 15 counties, including all of the Capital Region. It calls itself one of the largest private employers in the area, with more than 2,300 employees and a $117 million annual budget.
The loss means one less provider of these services in the two-county area, but Greater Amsterdam School District Superintendent Thomas Perillo said Thursday there are other agencies in the area able to absorb the students who participated in CloverPatch programming.
Perillo said the Amsterdam district will likely pick up some of the students in its universal pre-K program and other schools’ pre-K programs should be able to do so as well.