What are special act school districts?

Special Alert!!!

Special Act Public School Districts were created by an act of the NYS legislature in the late 1960’s to ensure equal access to public education for 3,000 students from 62 New York State counties.  Special Act Public Schools exist to educate students from the very poorest zip codes in New York State with learning challenges that require small classes, intensive counseling and guidance.  They serve students unable to attend community schools due to disabilities, illnesses, behavioral challenges.  Special acts are public schools, funded by a tuition rate that DOES NOT accommodate public expenses.
Bill # A09257/S9257 will help address this inequity by requiring the reimbursement of actual public school expenses.  Help ensure that our neediest students are provided with the resources they sorely need.


What are special act school districts?
There 7 Coalition Special Act public school districts created by an act of the New York State legislature to provide transitional, intensive intervention to special student populations; to ensure equal access to free, appropriate public education. Three districts are located in Westchester County, one is on Long Island and three are in northern New York State.

Who are the students served by special act school districts?
In Westchester alone, 3500 students come from an average of 20 different communities; over 60% from the New York City boroughs. Statewide special acts educate approximately 14,000 students from all 62 New York Sate counties. Special act public school districts educate both day and residential students referred by medical and mental health professionals, parents, school districts (CSE referrals), departments of social services: i.e. Administration of Children Services (ACS), Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and Office of Mental Health (OMH).

Tuition is set by the New York State Education Department’s Rate Setting Unit and certified by the Division of Budget. A portion of the tuition is paid by the county Department of Social Services and the remainder is subtracted from the state aid of the students’ district of residence. Those districts can use the STAC system to seek tuition reimbursement.

What do special acts districts do?
1) Provide students access to a comprehensive and dynamic curriculum that prepares them for college, career and productive citizenship.
2) Employ highly qualified teachers who benefit from on-site mentoring and professional development.
3) Provide students with supplemental support and remediation services from certified and licensed related service providers.
4) Employ scientifically based intervention strategies such as Positive Behavior Intervention Supports and Response to Intervention to ensure the efficacy of the instructional program.
5) Provide students with after school activities that support learning and development.
6) Provide a safe and nurturing environment where students can heal and grow.

How do special acts function?
1) In Westchester, Special Act Public School Districts employ almost 2000 teachers and support staff that live, work and shop locally.
2) Westchester Special Act Public School Districts mange budgets totaling almost $100,000,000.
3) State-wide Special Act Public School Districts employ more than 600 teachers and manage over $150,000,000.
4) All Special Act Public School Districts strive to reflect best practice to provide students with resources and community districts with consultation, to effect successful transition.