New Windsor - The Greenburgh-North Castle school district announced it has reached a final agreement with the New York State Education Department to reopen the former Kaplan School in New Windsor on January 30, 2012. The school, renamed the Kaplan Career Academy, will serve about 80 middle and high school special education students from Orange, Ulster, and Dutchess Counties.
"We are pleased to be able to bring our model for the education of students with disabilities to Orange County and to have a lead role in reopening this excellent facility for the mid-Hudson Valley community," said Dr. Edward Placke, GNC district superintendent, speaking at the school today. The district is headquartered in Dobbs Ferry.
"Our focus is on preparing students academically and vocationally for the transition to adulthood and careers. By emphasizing literacy, preparation for state exams, and career exploration, and by using a model of individualized instruction, we can achieve high graduation rates and prepare students to move on to college, vocational training, or employment," Dr. Placke said.
Last year, the GNC district, which consists of three schools in Westchester County, had a graduation rate of 83%, the highest of the state’s Special Act school districts. Of 64 graduates, nine received NYS Regents diplomas. Most of district’s current students are minority New York City youth, many of whom have not succeeded in previous special education settings.
Dr. Placke said that he expected the district to begin hiring additional teaching staff in November and that the school would begin a full semester curriculum when it opens in January.
The Kaplan Career Academy, as the school will now be called, rests on a 22-acre campus that includes residential facilities for special education students who cannot live at home. While there will be no residential students among the new classes entering in January, Dr. Placke said the school is expected to serve 10-20 residential students the following school year.
The residential program will be administered by St. Christopher’s, an agency affiliated with the school district, under state legislation passed last year. St. Christopher’s is a secular, not-for-profit youth services organization and currently administers the residential programs for more than 125 GNC students in Westchester County.
"Our agency and the community at large owe special thanks to State Senator Bill Larkin, whose timely assistance has been essential in restoring this school to operation," said Dr. Robert Maher, CEO of St. Christopher’s. "His help and the continued support of William Kaplan, the school’s namesake, and Kathy Frommer, a longtime community volunteer, have been invaluable in this process."