Feb 15, 2024 - News

Sanders commits to revitalizing deaf and blind schools

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders stands at a podium flanked by Education Secretary Jacob Oliva and Robert Fagan, chair of the Arkansas School of the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders speaks while flanked by Education Secretary Jacob Oliva (right) and Robert Fagan, chair of the Arkansas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday the state will upgrade or rebuild infrastructure at the Arkansas School for the Deaf (ASD) and the School for Blind and Visually Impaired (ASB).

Why it matters: Both schools are in Little Rock and provide tuition-free education to deaf, hard-of-hearing, blind and visually impaired students across the state through certified teaching staff.

Details: Sanders said a priority is to to keep the current location for the schools in downtown Little Rock, provide more resources for students elsewhere in the state and to address "critical safety concerns students are seeing right now."

  • Sanders noted "crumbling exteriors, leaking and drafty interiors, and a vast piece of land overseen by just a handful of staff" as "significant security, health and safety concerns."

By the numbers: About $30 million was set aside for the schools during the 2021 legislative session, Sanders said.

What they're saying: "I've heard stories of using duct tape and paper clips to fix things around there," said Robert Fagan, chair of the board of trustees for both schools.

What we're watching: Sanders did not provide projected total costs for the upgrades, only that the state plans "to move as fast as possible" for the timeline.

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