Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Oregon Senate Votes to Close the Oregon School for the Blind

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

Oregon Senate Votes to Close the Oregon School for the Blind

Article excerpt

In September 2009, the 135-year-old Oregon School for the Blind, located in Salem, will close its doors. In a 20-8 vote, members of the Oregon State Senate sealed the school's fate, and Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed that he would sign the bill into law recommending the closure of the school. The effort to close the school was led by the Oregon House of Representatives Education Chair Sara Gelser (a Democrat from Corvallis), who sought to redirect the reported $3.1 million in annual Oregon state tax revenue allocated to the school to instead help educate the state's blind and visually impaired students at their local public schools. According to data attributed to the Oregon Department of Education, the residential school reportedly educated 32 of the state's nearly 900 students who are blind or visually impaired during the 2008-2009 school year. With 47 full-time employees, the operating costs of the school added up to nearly $100,000 per student during that time period, compared with the approximately $20,000 allocated for each visually impaired student who received education and rehabilitation services in a local school. Rather than operate a residential school for a small percentage of the state's blind and visually impaired students, Rep. Gelser argued, "We can provide services to all blind and visually impaired students in their local communit[ies], and we can serve more kids better if we focus on doing that."

The once-accepted practice of relocating students who are blind from their families, hometowns, and local public schools to educate them at residential schools is viewed by many as an outdated model. …

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