As part of his amendments to the 2013-2014 state budget Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that he is adding $4.9 million to help local school districts cover the costs of serving blind and visually impaired students.
The money which helps localities coverthe cost of teachers, teachers' aides and staff will be partially offset by $500,000 already included in the budget for the state's Department of the Blind and Vision Impaired.
“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," McDonnell said in a press release. "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.”
The money will address an unfunded mandate for local school districts because although blind and visually impaired students are classified as Special Education students they are not included in the commonwealth's Standards of Quality funding formula.
The budget amendment comes at the recommendation of the Virginia Board of Education.
McDonnell will present his entire set of amendments to the state's biennial budget to the General Assembly Monday.