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September 25, 2003

Letter: How about FSDB Miami?

From: St. Augustine Record, FL - Sept 25, 2003

Thomas Krohn

Editor: Is FSDB's expansion plan really necessary? How about having another school for the deaf elsewhere, especially in the Miami area?

There is a curriculum that teaches students about "mock" independent living at FSDB and there are many social programs (Deaf Service Center/Bureau or vocational rehabilitation) in Florida that provide the "real-life" independent living services to the deaf adults and former FSDB students. If the expansion plan becomes reality, will the students pay for the rent, food, and utilities with the assistance of their jobs, HUD, food stamps or Social Security supplementary income? Will the curriculum teach current students how to find the places of their own to live? Is it only for students with the age of 18 to 22? If so, can you imagine that a high school student with the age of 21 or 22 lawfully having an alcoholic beverage? Thus, it increases the possibility that the underage students will get it. Now I question if the plan is really necessary?

Florida is currently the largest population of any state in the United States that has only one major (population of over 100 deaf students) special school for the deaf. There are some successful day schools for the deaf in the metropolitan (population over 1 million people) cities at other states. There are three newest day schools for the deaf in the last decade, which are located at Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver and Twin Cities. Despite being one of the smallest states in the United States, Maryland has two state-supported schools for the deaf even though they are located only 40 miles apart.

It is a logical principle that if the school increases the enrollment and there is insufficient open space on the campus to have a new building, then there shall be another school established elsewhere. In order to quell the crowd at FSDB, how about establishing a day school for the deaf in the Miami area as it has the largest portion (20-30 percent) of the population of current FSDB residential students? In terms of the distance from the metropolitan city to the main school for the deaf, Miami is the distinctly farthest of all metropolitan cities besides Memphis in the United States that is about 300 miles apart while Tampa and Houston rank second and third place in about 180 and 160 miles apart respectfully. Students attending Tennessee School for the Deaf fly to their homes in Memphis every weekend.

I believe that the ideal school that accepts students from Dade-Miami and Broward counties will have no problem getting over 300 deaf students within five years of the establishment. Thus, it will be healthier for students by eliminating one of their most unpleasant parts of FSDB life by riding on the bus for more than five hours each way on every weekend, and they will see their parents daily instead of every weekend. There will be numerous parents and deaf people, especially senior citizens from the Miami community, involved in the school activities. Moreover, the price per student will be so much cheaper without 24 supervising hours.

I wonder if the FSDB administrators or Board of Trustees have discussed the possibility of establishing another school for the deaf elsewhere, especially in Miami to quell the crowd at FSDB? If the ideal school becomes the reality, then it will ease the tension among the neighborhood, policy makers and especially FSDB children and their parents from the Miami area.

© The St. Augustine Record