BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (WTNH) -- A school that focuses on students with special needs may find may find themselves on the short-end of budget cuts.
"I have to wake her up to go to school, that's how bad I want to come to this school," said ninth grader Thalia Muniz.
Bridgeport's University School has a 100-plus year history, but administrators say the alternative institution for at-risk and special needs students is close to closing down because the district is cutting funds.
"A's and B's, something I haven't seen since I was younger," said tenth grader Julio Niola.
"As your child comes home with those A's and B's, you know that my child has a future," said parent Maxine Hines.
"First of all, we're not shutting anyone's school down, we're putting our kids in a better program," said Superintendent Paul Vallas. She says the school was never intended to be a full-time stay for students, rather, a chance for kids to get back on track and then return to the system.
"I'm very afraid for her future," said Thalia's mother Evelyn Madrid.
Vallas say the district has been dolling out millions based on a student count, a number the school often fails to meet. School officials say they're willing to reduce the cost per student to keep their annual contract.
Students say one thing that is special about this school is that kids are from all over town. Here they are friends, but in a public school setting they would be enemies.
Vallas says the money will be directed to new programs in the fall that will help hundreds of at risk students, rather than 74. But these kids and their parents say University has given something these kids once lost, pride in themselves.
"Can't close this school down, every kid deserves a second chance," Niola said.
Vallas says University School is free to court other students in other districts, but administrators say that is not an option because they are approved to follow only the Bridgeport curriculum.
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