Arc board supports using TIF for transition planning

Arc supports TIF funds transitions

From: Ella Boyd, executive director, The Art of Bartholomew County

Columbus

The board of directors of The Arc of Bartholomew County celebrating its 60th anniversary as an advocacy voice for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, has passed a resolution in support of Tax Increment Funding (TIF) for Transition Planning as requested by the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.

Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the right to be educated in general education classrooms in their neighborhood schools with appropriate services, supplementary aids and supports, which includes receiving transition services. Yet studies show many school districts do not adequately provide transition planning that is based upon a student’s strengths, preferences, interests and needs.

Additionally, there has never been adequate funding for such services, with the federal government not fulfilling its financial commitment to special education and the state of Indiana only periodically providing transition funding projects.

Data indicates the Labor Force Participation for People with disabilities is 20.4 percent, compared to 68.3 percent for people without disabilities; the unem-ployment rate for people with disabilities in the labor market is 10.7 per-cent, as compared to the 4.4 percent of people without disabilities; and when examining the entire population of people with disabilities, studies indicate as many as 70 percent of the disability population do not have meaningful or part-time work. Yet data and empirical evidence as well as anecdotal experiences indicate students with disabilities achieve great success when given opportunities, in community employment or, more and more, with post-secondary opportunities, as is being demonstrated with The Erskine Green Training Institute in Muncie.

BCSC should be providing all students an excellent education to prepare them to transition from school to community living and employment. Transition programs should foster individualized exploration of and experiences with community-based employment options that enable youth to make informed choices. A good program includes career assessments to identify students’ interests and preferences, exposure to workplace skills and participation in multiple on-the-job activities and experiences in paid and unpaid settings.

Students with I/DD should have effective work-based learning models to prepare for postsecondary education and competitive integrated employment; and passage of Indiana HB 1219 this year, which requires all schools to offer all diplomas approved by the state board, an important victory for students receiving special education services across the state.

The Arc applauds BCSC in seeking creative and innovative approaches to provide transition services and supports its request of $246,796 in TIF funds, not only for its provision of educational opportunities for students with disabilities but also employment of these students which will enhance the economic development of our community.

And if granted the funds, The Arc calls upon BCSC to utilize them to adequately and effectively address the many challenges associated with transition that will require engagement of a much larger audience in how best to proceed. This process should include young people with disabilities, parents, general education and special education teachers, disability advocacy organizations, community agencies, post-secondary education programs and employers.

A full statement from The Arc is available by contacting thearcofbc@yahoo.com.