Mississippi Schools for the Blind and the Deaf are fully accredited elementary and secondary programs (K-12) designed to focus on the unique learning needs of children and youth with visual impairments or blindness and those who are deaf and hard-of-hearing, including those who have additional disabilities.
The Schools for the Blind and the Deaf do not receive funding through the Mississippi Adequate Education program. Rather, they receive state funding exclusively through a separate line item in the K-12 budget.
These special schools incur expenses not typical of most school districts, including:
- Residential setting
- Three meals per day
- On-campus health clinic staffed with nurses 24 hours a day, six days a week
The Schools for the Blind and the Deaf also provide off-campus services statewide, including:
- Instruction for pre-school students in their homes or day care centers throughout the state
- Assessments and assistive devices provided to students in local school districts by the Mississippi School for the Blind’s Low Vision Clinic
- Braille and large-print textbooks and materials for students in local school districts
- Assessments and technical assistance related to hearing loss for students in local school districts
- Professional development and supports to local school districts serving deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind, and visually impaired students across the state
It is important to note that the number of students reported as enrolled at the Schools for the Blind and the Deaf does not reflect the many students and families served, at significant cost, by these special schools in homes, centers, and local school districts across the state.
The House version of the FY2017 budget cuts funding for the Schools for the Blind and the Deaf by $1.5-million.
The Senate version of the FY2107 budget cuts funding for the Schools for the Blind and the Deaf by $728,000.
These proposed cuts will have a significant impact on the ability of the state to provide appropriate services to some of our most vulnerable children.