New York special education school could close after state funding cut, NYC demand

MOUNT KISCO, Westchester County (WABC) -- A change in state funding and a demand from New York City has left a Westchester County special education high school in danger of closing its doors.

For 62 years, the Karafin School in Mount Kisco has served students with learning and emotional disabilities from New York City, the Lower Hudson Valley, and Connecticut.

The small private school with just 70 students does not charge tuition, rather it is funded by public school districts that place students whose needs they are unable to meet.

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"We provide a comforting, nurturing, and safe environment for kids who have been bullied or come out of the hospital," said Renee Donow, who owns the school with her husband.

A recent retroactive reduction in the reimbursement rate set by New York State has left the school unable to meet expenses.

Based on the new formula, the New York City Department of Education is demanding $257,000 it says it overpaid.

"That's been the hardest part," Bart Donow said. "Expecting us, when we operate on a tiny margin to begin with, to go backwards and repay money we don't think we should owe."

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Staffers have launched an online fund raising campaign to try and keep Karafin open.

"It's so important for us to continue on," teacher Gina Giordano said. "There are no other schools like us."

CLICK HERE to access the GoFundMe page.

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