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January 11, 2003

Advocates for the deaf making voices heard

From: Portsmouth Herald, NH - 11 Jan 2003

By Sara Newbury

CONCORD - The debate about Portsmouth’s endangered program for the deaf and hard of hearing will travel to the state Capitol on Monday for a press conference.

Susan Wolf-Downes, executive director of Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services, announced the press conference on Friday. It’s scheduled for Monday, Jan. 13, at 11:30 a.m. in the lobby of the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

Earlier this year, Portsmouth school administrators announced that the program for deaf and hard-of-hearing students - a 25- year-old program that has attracted students from all over the state - may be one of the first to go when the budget is re-evaluated.

Funding is an issue, and some schools in the state want to bring students back to their own districts.

Parents with students in the program, along with staff, are working to keep the program going.

Tracie and Jon Plodzik, of Dover, are two of those parents. Their daughter Taylor, 9, has been in the Portsmouth program for almost two years.

"We are trying to go about this in a very positive way with a team effort," said Tracie Plodzik "The Portsmouth program is a wonderful program. It’s already established and serving the needs of these kids. It just needs more support."

Rationale for keeping the program will be discussed at the press conference, as well will the benefits of statewide, comprehensive regional programs.

The Plodziks, along with other parents and representatives from the state also plan to attend Tuesday’s School Board meeting to discuss the issue further. The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at Portsmouth City Hall.

Plodzik said she’s hoping everyone involved can work together on a solution.

"No one is trying to get anyone upset," Tracy said. "We’re trying to do the best thing for these kids - that’s the number one issue we’re facing. With state support, it should happen. That’s what we’re looking for out of this press conference."

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