Idaho Lawmakers Consider Closing Residential School
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 21, 2006
BOISE, IDAHO--A bipartisan plan in the Idaho Legislature would close the nearly 100-year-old campus of the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind, and allow the 75 children housed there to attend school in their home towns with children that do not have disabilities.
The plan is being driven in part by financial concerns as the number of students using the residential institution has dropped by 50 percent in the last decade, causing individual costs to skyrocket. It is also motivated by a national trend away from segregated settings and toward inclusive education.
"We needed an opportunity to bring our educational model into the 21st century," Republican Senator Patti Anne Lodge told the Twin Falls Times-News.
Under the proposal introduced last week, students with hearing- and vision-related disabilities would receive specialized help through five regional day programs spread across the state.
Some relatives of children currently housed at the school are opposing the initiative, arguing that their loved ones cannot be served outside the facility. One grandmother showed up at the Capitol Tuesday with a 1,100-signature petition calling for the state to save the institution.
One lawmaker, worried about the impact that laying off state workers would have on the local economy, suggested that the facility open its doors to students in other states.
Others argue that it simply is time to close ISDB and move on.
"I want to be respectful for the community's needs, but on the other hand, the state has a responsibility to our taxpayers to use our resources in the best way possible," Democratic Representative Margaret Henbest told KTVB-TV.
"Legislators hears proposal to close ISDB campus" (Twin Falls Times-News)
"Grandmother fights to keep school for deaf and blind from closing"(KTVB-TV)