Muncie School victim of budget cuts School for emotionally disturbed closing in March.

December 16, 1991|By Jay Merwin | Jay Merwin,Evening Sun Staff

A school for emotionally disturbed youths at a state mental hospital in Sykesville is to close in March because of state budget cuts announced in October.

All 22 state and contractual employees of the Muncie School, a special education program at Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, will lose their jobs, said Jane Cosby, a teacher there.

Layoff notices, which came last Monday, won't take effect for 90 days. Muncie students are to be taught at home after March by state home and hospital teachers.

The home and hospital program is to be six hours a week, compared with Muncie's schedule of a regular, six-hour school day.

Muncie is a middle and high school special education program that serves about 45 students, most of whom live at Springfield, Cosby said. About eight are day students from around Carroll County.

Cosby worried that the new home and hospital teachers may not be properly trained to handle students with the behavioral problems that the Muncie students have. "Home and hospital doesn't know how to deal with these people," Cosby said.

But Ron Peiffer, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, which funds the schools at state mental hospitals, said the department would try to hire home and hospital teachers who have experience with emotionally disturbed children.

"We're aware there would have to be people who would be qualified to handle that kind of student," Peiffer said.

The laid-off Muncie employees could possibly be candidates for these new positions, said Brian Rice, the fiscal officer for the department's division of special education.

In October, the state cut $719,000 from its $6.2 million fiscal year 1992 grant for schools at eight state mental hospitals, according to Rice.

He said the hospitals knew a cut was coming but, until recently, "the question was, which facility was going to be cut and by how much."

Funding for schools at some of the other institutions was reduced in the October budget-cutting round but those schools will remain open, Rice said.

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