Dear Indiana Senators,
When reading The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), I could not help but raise questions even my eyebrows leading me to skeptical acceptance of the figures provided in regards of the expenses for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing children in Indiana. Please allow me to present the facts, as only the facts speak for itself.
1. The Office and Management Budget (under Important links) claimed that under #1, "the review included conversations and interviews with numerous stakeholders, including key staff at ISD, parents and alumni of ISD, providers of services to deaf and hard of hearing children (e.g., Indiana Hands and Voices), parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and experts in the field of deaf education."
If that is true, then why is it that there have been so many outcries by certain Deaf leaders and concerned Deaf citizens that they are not included? It has been commonly chanted, "About us, not without us."
|By Julie Rems Smario 2012|
2. Under the OMB report #4, it said:
"Approximately $15 million of the $16.5 million operating budget (more than 90%) is utilized to operate the school and serve its 331 ISD students. With 331 students, the operating cost per student is approximately $45,000. Approximately $1.5 million of the $16.5 million operating budget (less than 10%) is dedicated to serving the roughly 2,000 deaf or hard of hearing children who do not attend ISD."
$15 million = 331 ISD students
$1.5 million = 2,000 students who go to mainstreamed schools
Really? Now get this from the same report under #3:
"Around 500 students (25%) have an interpreter accompany them throughout the school day (most of whom use “Signed English”, which is different from ASL)."
So there are educational interpreters provided for these 500 students.
Let's do the math. Average salary of educational interpreter a year in Indiana: (source from http://signlanguageinterpretersalary.com/IN/1/salary/Educational-Interpreter-Salary)
Average Yearly Educational Interpreter Salary $28,031 - $42,046
Starting Yearly Educational Interpreter Salary $23,084 - $34,626
Top Yearly Educational Interpreter Salary $32,977 - $49,466
Analysis: Mean ending salary of educational SEE interpreters of these levels: $36, 833 x 500 non-ISD students in mainstreaming programs = $18,441,000.
So it costs 18.4 million dollars to cover these educational interpreters, not 1.5 million. This prospective amount doesn't include the expenses for special services (i.e. speech therapists, audiological services, FM equipment, etc.). Also, don't forget that statewide insurance companies spend on millions more for cochlear implants.
In addition, do not forget to recall the fact that there are short skilled interpreters as well and direct instruction is eliminated as reported by the OMB:
Quality of interpreters:
• It was mentioned previously that many deaf students not enrolled at ISD make use of an interpreter while attending school in their home district. There were anecdotal reports that there is a shortage of skilled interpreters in this area.
3. a. Hear Indiana (under Important Links: Hear Indiana Fact Sheet) claimed that on pg. 1:
"Many times families are enrolled in early intervention services that do not match the communication goals of the family resulting in wasted state dollars and possible unnecessary language delays for the child."
What is really the fact:
There is a shortage of skilled interpreters so who is the one not matching the goal of communication for the Deaf child? It lies the accountability of school districts. ISD Outreach Service had served 816 children in 2010-2011 yet ISD only currently has 313 students. Since the majority had gone to mainstreamed schools, how could it be that Outreach is responsible for NOT matching the communication goals of the family? Outreach Center at ISD is being a scapegoat and the blame is showered by Hear Indiana on behalf of Alexander Graham Bell Association.
b. Also, Hear Indiana had proposed the legislative to:
"Establish an unbiased and comprehensive center for children who are deaf and hard of hearing."
If it is true that Outreach program is biased at ISD that currently has 300 students, then how come there are more than "2,000 deaf or hard of hearing school-aged children in Indiana, with the vast majority of students attending school at their home district"?
4. In the OMB report, it stated under #7:
• A common theme heard from parents of ISD students was a frustration that they wanted their child to attend ISD sooner than they did; however, the initial result of their case conference report was that they had to stay at their LEA (Local Education Agency, i.e., home school district).
Who is really denying parents' choices? Going against parents' choices has been evidently practiced by their local home school districts. So why wasn't there a bill proposing to remove the local home school district's authority to deny parents' choice to send their Deaf child to ISD?
5. Hear Indiana wanted to propose that the "outreach center is to have a collective expertise of professionals from different domains (e.g., education, speech‐language pathology, audiology, music therapy, sign language instruction)."
• Provide training to parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.
• Develop student learning opportunities.
• Provide audiological assessments, communication assessments, educational assessments, classroom assessments, and assessments of professionals in American Sign Language and English sign systems, oral interpreting, cued speech, and language transliterating.
According to ISD Fact sheet, it includes
"14 full time staff and one contract consultant providing outreach and consultation to public schools, families and children birth to 21. Additionally, 26 Early Intervention contracted providers funded by First Steps (Speech Pathologist, *SKI HI Parent advisors, Therapists, and Deaf Role Models). Outreach provides a Deaf Educator as Teacher of Record."
Also, Outreach staff has expertise in serving children with cochlear implants, as well as digital hearing aids and FM systems. Approximately 33% of children from 3 to 5 years of age have cochlear implants. (Per data from ISD and Public school teachers).
The Outreach Service at ISD have more than several audiologists, speech-pathologists, early interventionists and even those who specializes in cochlear implants. What no collective expertise of professionals here? Why throw away something that we already have?
It cost $900,000 to build a center at ISD a few decades ago. It doesn't make sense to destruct for what has already been build and to spend more than million dollars in today's shrinking budget to build another center. Please think twice before voting for HB1367.
A concerned mother of two Deaf children and a teacher of the Deaf
Update: Thanks to Ella Lentz for the correction about the costs for the center. It is $900,000 not $90,000 (missed the additional zero) to build a center back in 1996. So in that case, it would cost more than a million or two.
More related links:
Indiana Deaf Education Coalition FB