Lawmakers propose closing state schools - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/23/09

Lawmakers propose closing state schools

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Two Texas lawmakers say it's time to close some homes for the mentally disabled.

Representative Patrick Rose (D) of Dripping Springs and Senator Rodney Ellis (D) of Houston filed bills Monday that would close some State Schools across Texas. Legislators did not specify which schools, and they say the matter will take a lot of study.

One thing we already know, if lawmakers close the school in Lubbock, hundreds of people could lose their jobs. NewsChannel 11 spoke with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services Monday afternoon and they tell us at the end of November 2008 the Lubbock State School employed more than 800 people.

"Anytime you lose a business that has that many employees, it's a big impact on them as well as certain segments of the community," Lubbock Chamber of Commerce President Eddie McBride said. 

McBride tells NewsChannel 11 the Lubbock State School is one of the top employers in Lubbock. "Also, what people have to understand is it's not just the state school itself, it's the vendors they get a lot of other business from, and that's important because it spins out through the economy in many areas," he said.

McBride says closing the Lubbock school would not only hurt the local economy, it would also hurt the people who live there.

Laura Albrect with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services tells us the agency has been and will continue to work with state legislators on improvements to states schools to make them better for the people who call state schools home.  "I hope whatever they're looking at, they look at the overall impact, not just on the community, but also on the families as well," McBride said. 

Lawmakers expect several public hearings with heated debate before any decision is made. The legislation calls for some closures within two years, and for thousands of residents to move to community group homes or independent living. Some families oppose such a move, because they say their loved ones receive good care at State Schools.

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