Many people may recognize me as a long-time, outspoken advocate for the special education students in our community. I have spoken many times at Rye City School District Board of Education Meetings, to four superintendents, three special education directors and countless other administrators and board of ed members over the years. I have a step-daughter and daughter who attended RCSD from Kindergarten to 12th grade and my son, TJ, who is 15 and special needs is about to transition from 8th grade to a freshman in high school.
Prior to this, most of my advocacy efforts have been to point out the deficiencies in the school district regarding special education and for a long time I’ve had great concern and trepidation about how my son would transition to Rye High School. But I am writing this letter to say thank you and how excited I am for my son TJ to enter high school. There are so many people to thank, but to name a few I’ll start with Dr. Erin Vredenburgh and Amy Osooli, and all of TJ’s teachers and aides and support providers. Also, Athletic Director Susan Reid Dullea and Coach Jonathan Sable and of course Dr. Byrne. I feel I have the entire “village” of Rye City School District on team TJ as he heads into High School. I personally have seen a huge shift here in the district with the supports for special education students and the “Rye Commitment’s” focus on providing an equitable, inclusive environment.
TJ has become a star on the 8th grade football team, with Coach Sable arranging for him to get a touch down at every game and his classmates on the SALT Squad have been involved with the school play and track team. The best part of the community involvement is to see how kind and inclusive the other students are, even when playing our rival Harrison in 8th grade football, all the players, including the Harrison players, came up and high-fived TJ after his touchdown.
Needless to say, there have been a lot of proud and heartfelt moments and I feel the district has made a lot of positive changes, but I just want to emphasize how important the passing of the 2022-2023 budget is to these ongoing efforts. The budget is not only fiscally responsible, in that it is tax cap compliant, but there is a continued focus on supporting excellent academic programming. While the programs supported in the proposed budget will benefit all students, I am thrilled to see the district continuing to advance in areas that enormously benefit special education students, including the work of the Haskins Lab, the support of the mental health and well-being of our students, therapeutic support services, expanding the successful Life Skills program at the high School and important ADA accessibility upgrades.
On May 17th, please vote “YES” to the 2022-2023 Rye City School District budget so that we can continue to support the district’s positive change and an equitable, inclusive school system.