Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is defending her proposal to eliminate Special Olympics funding from the federal budget.
President of Special Olympics Virginia Rick Jeffrey says federal funds make up only four percent of its educational program budget. The educational programs bring inclusive sports teams into public schools, with half its players with intellectual disabilities, and the other half without.
Jeffrey says Special Olympics is in only 25 percent of the state’s schools, and it’s working to make that percentage higher.
While the proposed cuts are worrisome, Jeffrey says it isn’t a sight unseen. Jeffrey says the program has seen similar proposals in the last two budget cycles, but its champions in the House and Senate have brought it back to life.
“Special Olympics isn’t going anywhere,” said Jeffrey. “The school programming would continue to move forward. The schools that we already have in play, we’ve worked with them to build sustainable models, so they will keep going and we’ll keep expanding. Just maybe at a smaller rate.”
Jeffrey reports about 14,000 Virginia students participate in federally funded Special Olympics educational programs.