NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York City will make a $200 million investment in special education programs, Chancellor David Banks announced Thursday.

The funding will be used to expand programs like the Sensory Exploration Education and Discovery Program, also known as SEED.

As part of the SEED program, students work on social and emotional skills alongside therapists in a room specially designed to meet the needs of children with autism. 

“It’s basically about empowering all kids no matter what disability or how they learn to relax,” explained eighth-grader Gabriel Figueroa. 

There are 10 SEED sites in New York City public schools, but by the end of the year, there will be 80 as part of the city’s greater focus on special education programs. 

“Far too often, when leaders set old visions for our schools, they leave out our students with disabilities,” Banks said. 

While visiting P.S. 186 in the Bronx, the chancellor also announced the creation of a Special Education Advisory Council comprised of educators, parents and former students focused on finding ways to meet the needs of the 200,000 city students eligible for special education.